PSO's Oologah Plant Adjusts To New EPA Standards

Friday, March 20th 2015, 7:02 pm
By: News On 6

The Public Service Company of Oklahoma's power plant in Oologah is going through some major changes in order to meet new Environmental Protection Agency standards and make the power cleaner.

The changes will affect how much customers pay each month for electricity.

The construction upgrades will also affect two of the power plant's coal units; phasing one of them out completely, and changing the other.

It's all being done to comply with the EPA Regional Haze Agreement and mercury and air toxic standards.

The coal units at the plant have been hard at work since 1980, but now major changes are happening.

The Oologah power plant is the only one operated by PSO in Oklahoma using coal to produce energy; although coal is cheaper than natural gas it's not as clean.

According to Stan Whitford with Public Service Company of Oklahoma, in 2012 PSO and the EPA agreed on new regulations.

"We have to meet the environmental regulations. We set about looking at different options and we came upon this one where we would install new emission control equipment,” he said.

PSO Project Manager, Dave Lehman, said construction at the plant is well underway.

“It was a major milestone for construction. We added the first section of the bag house, you can see it where the crane is, it was installed yesterday," he said.

Construction will improve air quality by removing sulfur dioxide pollutants and heavy metal pollutants, like mercury, from the coal.

Lehman said, "It will be very much cleaner and meet the emission standards of today."

The changes will cost about $350 million, which may sound like a lot, but had they gone with the option to keep both coal units and install scrubbers in them, that would have cost about $600 million more.

Making the changes had to happen, so they said they tried to find the option that would save some money, but still, customers will eventually see an 11 percent increase in their electricity bills.

"We worked very hard to get the most economical and the most environmentally beneficial,” Whitford said.

This phase is expected to be completed sometime next year. The changes, when put in place, will keep that unit running for ten years and will then be retired.