Campbell Plant Comes Clean

May 15, 2002
Print
Text Size:
A A
WEST OLIVE – Consumers Energy Co. is spending $300 million in an ambitious plan to upgrade its J.H. Campbell Generating Complex in Ottawa County in order to meet new clean-air regulations.

The upgrades at Campbell, launched last fall and scheduled to last for three years, will significantly reduce the plant’s nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions to levels that would more than meet new federal Clean Air Act regulations that are scheduled to take effect in 2004.

The work at Campbell represents by far the largest chunk of the $500 million that Jackson-based Consumers Energy has earmarked to reduce NOx emissions at its four coal-burning generating stations in Michigan.

“The company sees this place as a major producer of what we’re going to sell in the future,” said Brian Ranschaert, senior engineer at J.H. Campbell. “It’s going to be a lot better unit that it has been.”

The Campbell project involves numerous equipment upgrades, including the installation of new burners that will burn coal at a lower temperature, reducing NOx emissions that contribute to the formation of smog and greenhouse gasses. Consumers also plans to install catalytic equipment to treat flue gasses between the boiler and smokestack, further cleaning emissions, and will upgrade Campbell’s monitoring and control systems.

Consumers also is preparing the complex to burn 100 percent low-sulfur coal from the western United States, which burns far cleaner than eastern coal. In addition to the reduced NOx emissions, the use of western coal will also reduce operating costs for J.H. Campbell, since western coal is cheaper than eastern coal, even with the additional transportation expense.

That cost-savings is welcome in today’s era of electric deregulation where utilities are expected to produce safe, reliable power at competitive rates and turn a reasonable profit for shareholders, all while spending “mind-boggling amounts of money” to maintain compliance with clean-air standards, said Bill Ritchie, J.H. Campbell’s general manager.

“The challenges are huge in this business,” Ritchie said.

One option Consumers Energy considered to bring J.H. Campbell into compliance with new clean-air regulations was the purchase of pollution credits from a utility that overcomplies with the law. Consumers, however, opted for upgrading the complex, a move that will help bring the utility’s entire system statewide into compliance with tightening regulations, Ritchie said

“It’s better to make the investment rather than continue fighting,” Ritchie said. “After all of the analysis, it was the right business decision for Consumers. When you look at the community, and we’re going to be here a long time, it makes sense.”

Capable of producing 1,434 megawatts of electricity – or enough to power 900,000 households – the Campbell Complex consists of three separate electric generators that burn 4 million tons of coal annually. The complex, located on the shores of Lake Michigan midway between Grand Haven and Holland, generates nearly 20 percent of all the electricity produced by Consumers Energy, which operates 19 power plants in Michigan (four coal, one nuclear, one pumped storage, and 13 hydroelectric).

Upgrades to Campbell’s Unit 2 generator were completed late last year. Similar work on Unit 1, which began producing power in 1962 and is Campbell’s oldest generator, started earlier this month.

Recent Articles by Mark Sanchez

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus