Healy Power Plant is composed of 2 generating units:
Healy Unit 1
- 28-megawatt (MW)
- Operational since 1967
Healy Unit 2
- Began burning coal in 1998, but was placed in warm-layup status until it was purchased from Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) in December 2013 and came back online in May 2015
- The plant has been commercially operated since September 2018
This 50-MW power plant increases our baseload of coal-fired generation and will provide long-term stability, since coal prices over time have proven to be significantly less volatile than oil or gas prices.
Current Status: In 2019 the capacity factor was approximately 54%. We expect that to increase as we continue to make improvements as bugs are worked out.
- In November 2012, the joint Consent Decree between Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA), AIDEA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was approved
- At issue was the agency’s reissue of the air permit – the last major hurdle to restarting the Healy Unit 2 Power Plant
- Golden Valley chose to pursue the Consent Decree option with the EPA, otherwise, there was no defined end to the air permitting process – The Consent Decree avoids what the co-op believes would have been lengthy and costly litigation
Consent Decree Stipulations
- GVEA agreed to install the most rigorous emission controls available on Healy Unit 2, with an estimated cost of $30 million – This includes an estimated $5 million for installing additional nitrous oxide controls on Healy Unit 1
- GVEA agreed to pay $250,000 to help fund the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Denali Borough Woodstove Change-out Program – This will help alleviate the particulate matter problems in the Interior.
- GVEA negotiated for a minimal payment of $115,000 to the EPA – Payments to the EPA are required under the rules of a Consent Decree
The Consent Decree does not require any mandatory shutdown dates for neither Healy Unit 1 nor Healy Unit 2. GVEA’s board of directors retains full control of decisions regarding shutdown of either plant.
Restarting Healy Unit 2 will:
- Further diversify our fuel mix, which will help stabilize rates
- Put this $300 million State and Federal asset to work
History of the Plant
In 1989, the U.S. DOE’s Clean Coal Technology Program selected Healy as a demonstration plant to use experimental technology to burn waste coal. Healy Unit 2 began burning coal in 1998 and generated power intermittently through 1999 in its testing phase. When the plant failed a 90-day commercial operation test, it was placed in warm lay-up status in early 2000. Talks between AIDEA and GVEA to resolve disputes were unsuccessful. In 2005, AIDEA filed a lawsuit against GVEA. The purchase of the power plant ended the lawsuit.
1993 Final Environmental Impact Statement:
- Department Of Energy – $120 million
- Alaska Legislature – $25 million
- AIDEA – $150 million
- GVEA and Usibelli Coal Mine – $10 million plus in-kind contributions
- DOE selected Healy Unit 2 (formerly HCCP) as a Clean Coal Technology Program demonstration plant
1995 to 1997
- Healy Unit 2 constructed
1997 to 2000
- Healy 2 Demonstration run (failed)
- Plant placed in warm lay-up status
- GVEA and AIDA reach sale agreement
2009 to 2013
- Negotiations were finalized in December 2013 when the purchase agreement was signed on December 4
2014 to 2015
- After 18 months of retrofitting and refurbishing Healy Unit 2, which included additional pollution controls, updating systems and replacing obsolete controls, on May 28, 2015, the plant was fired on oil for the first time since 2000 – On August 4, 2015, Healy Unit 2 was fired on coal
2016 to 2017
- On March 3, 2016, when the plant was operating in a start-up condition, transferring from oil to coal, Healy Unit 2 experienced a fire/explosion in the coal feed system
- On November 2, 2016, Healy Unit 2 suffered damage to the coal feed system due to spontaneous combustion, commonly known in the industry as a “puff”
- At GVEA’s August 28, 2017 board meeting, the directors authorized moving forward with proposed modifications to Healy Unit 2’s coal feed and fuel transport system
- Both Unit 1 and Unit 2 have undergone significant environmental upgrades – Unit 1 was successfully commissioned six months early – Unit 2’s environmental controls are installed and will be commissioned once the plant is back online, anticipated in the fall of 2018
- January to June: Demolition of old fuel transport system and construction/installation of the redesigned system
- July 2: First-fire on oil (ignition fuel), followed by system startup and testing
- July 28: First-fire on coal, followed by tuning and testing
- August 16: Achieved full-load operation, followed by additional tuning and testing
- September 14: Successfuly completed 30-day 85%-availability run to achieve commercial operation/acceptance
- October 10: Planned outage to install SCR catalyst (the final emission control component)
- November December: Commercial operation
- January to April: Commercial operation
- April: Scheduled outage took place, to perform annual maintenance
- May: Resumed commercial operation
- June – August: Plant ran consistently, though often at reduced load, due to issues with the baghouse and the Flue Gas Desulferization (FGD) system
- September: Plant offline for 2 weeks to replace baghouse bags and make repairs to slag drag chain
- October 9 to 15: Repairs made to slag drag chain and wet ash bucket elevator
- October 21 to 22: Repairs made to bucket elevator
- November: Original system design led to lime contamination of boiler water while plant was offline – Required a week of flushing the boiler before re-firing
- December: Coal quality issues (wet coal with low BTU) and continued slag drag issues
- January 25 to February 6: Offline for slag drag repairs
- February to March: Good run with 52 days online
- April to May: Operating, but continued to battle issues with the slag drag, bucket elevator and FGD systems
- June 8 to 17: Dynamic classifier bearing failure; plant at half-load
- July to August: Planned outage – Benetech performed major upgrades and/or repairs to wet ash system, which includes slag drag conveyor, bottom ash conveyor and bucket elevator – GVEA repaired transfer conveyor
Healy Unti 2 Videos
Coal Ash Handling Systems
Healy Unit 1: The former coal ash handling system, constructed in the 1990s, consisted of a primary settling pond (Ash Pond), a Recirculating Pond, an Emergency Overflow Pond, and an Ash Drying Area (defined as a CCR landfill by the CCR Rule). All three ponds were incised with storage volume less than 20 acre-feet and height less than 20 feet. Coal ash from the Ash Pond was placed in the Ash Drying Area where excess water drained and evaporated prior to transport and disposal at Usibelli Coal Mine (UCM). The ash settling ponds and the Ash Drying Area make up the four CCR units regulated under the CCR Rule. After closure of Unit 1’s coal ash settling ponds in 2021, coal ash generated by Unit 1 is directed to Unit 2’s mechanical drag conveyor systems. Combined coal ash from the 2 units is conveyed to silos for intermediate storage prior to offloading for transport and final disposal at UCM.
Healy Unit 2: A dry handling process and mechanical drag conveyor system is used to manage the generated coal ash. Unit 2’s coal ash is intermediately stored in silos prior to transport and disposal at the UCM.
GVEA energized the Northern Intertie in October 2003. This 97-mile, 230-kilovolt line is one of GVEA’s initiatives to improve system reliability. This transmission line stretches between Healy and Fairbanks. Golden Valley is the northern control point for the Alaska Intertie, which serves most Railbelt communities. This transmission line extends between Willow and Healy, along the Parks Highway corridor. Through the Alaska Intertie, GVEA is connected to Chugach Electric Association., Matanuska Electric Association., Homer Electric Association. and the City of Seward’s electrical system.
Both interties allow GVEA to augment our 296 MW generation capacity, with an additional 70 MW from southern utilities.