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Rolling Hills receives air quality permit

With the issuance of an EPA air quality permit, the Rolling Hills Generating Station in Ohio is one step closer to planned conversion from peaking-only to a combined-cycle operations.

The Rolling Hills Generating Plant near Wilkesville in Vinton County, Ohio, received its Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 20, bringing the plant ever nearer to the planned conversion from a peaking-only plant to a combined-cycle operations facility.

The permit issuance follows receipt of a wastewater discharge permit in late February by the Tenaska Capital Management-owned facility, which has been in operation since 2003, as well as approval from the Ohio Power Sitting Board in the form of a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need in 2013.

The plant currently operates as an 850-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fueled peaking plant, and after conversion, is expected to reach a full capacity of 1,414 MW.

“With our air quality permit in hand, the Rolling Hills Generating Station conversion project is in advanced-stage development,” said Tenaska project manager and vice president of transaction and portfolio management Jeff James. “We are optimistic about the prospects of this project and look forward to the day it is called on to provide more clean, reliable power in Ohio and the PJM Interconnection market.”

While the PSD permit issuance is a significant milestone for the facility, there are still a few hurdles that need clearing, such as the Ohio EPA 401 wastewater discharge and isolated wetlands permit and the US Army Corps of Engineers 404 water quality permit.

The conversion coincides with planned retirement of several coal power plants in the region, as well as a resurgence in industry and manufacturing inside the US. Tenaska anticipates that because of the plant's strategic location, it will likely be called upon increasingly by the PJM Interconnection Market to meet baseload power demands, according to a related release.

“Meeting power demands in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner is an important aspect of this project,” James said. “The efficient combined-cycle and peaking configuration will help Ohio meet the electricity demands of the market, even as several coal plants in the state retire.”

While Tenaska reports that market demand will be the ultimate determinant of the project timeline, earliest construction is expected to begin sometime in the second half of 2015. Commercial operations would begin three years after construction start.