Golden Valley Electric Association plans to start up a long-idled Healy area coal fired power plant next week. The facility is being put back on line after nearly 20 years of failings and dispute.
The power plant is one of two Golden Valley Electric Association has in Healy to burn coal from the next door Usibelli Mine. GVEA vice president of transmission and distribution Mike Wright says Healy 2, formerly known as the Healy Clean Coal Plant, is scheduled to fire up May 27.
Wright says Healy 2’s power output will displace higher price natural gas and oil fired electricity generation sources, but it’s not expected to significantly affect customer bills.
Wright stresses that coal is a long-term, price-stable fuel. GVEA purchased the Healy 2 plant from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority in 2013 for $44 million. The deal followed a drawn out legal battle that began when the $300 million, largely state and federally funded experimental plant failed to meet the utility’s standards in the late 1990s. Bringing the mothballed facility on line entails major upgrades, including Environmental Protection Agency required emissions system improvements at both of the utility’s Healy coal fired plants, changes Wright says add to the overall project cost
Wright says one looming coal fired power issue is new federal carbon dioxide emissions standards that could cap output of the greenhouse gas. He says that could require shutdown of GVEA’s older Healy 1 plant.