Ohio plant wastewater discharge permit approved

The Rolling Hills Generating Station, a facility controlled by US buyout firm Tenaska, is nearing conversion to a combined-cycle and peaking plant in order to meet expected future demand in the PJM market.

The State of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPEDS) wastewater discharge permit to the Rolling Hills Generating Station in Vinton County, Ohio, bringing the facility one step closer to its goal of converting from a peaking-only plant to a combined-cycle and peaking plant.

Completed in 2003, the Rolling Hills plant has been owned and managed by Omaha, Nebraska-based private equity firm Tenaska Capital Management since 2008, when it was purchased from Houston, Texas-based Dynegy . The facility currently operates as an 850-megawatt (MW), natural gas-fuelled peaking plant, and after conversion is expected to reach a full capacity of 1,414MW.

The issuance follows receipt of a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need from the State of Ohio Sitting Board in 2013 and is expected to be followed by issue of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration air quality permit in the coming weeks.

Other permits that must be obtained prior to construction start include the Ohio EPA 401 wastewater discharge and isolated wetlands permit, and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) 404 water quality permit, according to Jeff James, vice president of transaction and portfolio management for Tenaska. 

The plan would be executed through the combination of four out of the five existing combustion turbine units with two steam units for use in combined cycle operations. The remaining turbine unit would continue to be utilised in peaking operations.

Planning for the conversion coincides with anticipated retirement of several coal plants within the PJM Interconnection market, which serves 13 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a resurgence in US manufacturing. The release said both factors could increase the need for gas-fueled power generation.

“Safety, including protecting the environment, is an important priority,” said Jeff James, project manager. “As aging coal plants are retired, we anticipate that this strategically-located plant will increasingly be called upon by PJM to meet additional baseload power requirements in this region.”

Another motivating factor behind the conversion is that it would help the state of Ohio to meet the gas emissions goal of the US Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan.

There is no set timetable for project initialisation, though construction could begin sometime this year, the release said. Commercial operation would commence within three years of construction start.

Tenaska declined to provide further details on the expected costs of the conversion and its impacts on investment performance.