Capitol Power Plant

Last updated

Coordinates: 38°52′58.35″N77°0′27.06″W / 38.8828750°N 77.0075167°W / 38.8828750; -77.0075167

Contents

The Capitol Power Plant in 2011, from the Architect of the Capitol Flickr - USCapitol - Capitol Power Plant.jpg
The Capitol Power Plant in 2011, from the Architect of the Capitol
A Capitol Power Plant employee inspecting the equipment, from the Architect of the Capitol Flickr - USCapitol - Working at the Capitol Power Plant.jpg
A Capitol Power Plant employee inspecting the equipment, from the Architect of the Capitol
The Capitol Power Plant at the turn of the 20th century. CapitolPowerPlant.jpg
The Capitol Power Plant at the turn of the 20th century.

The Capitol Power Plant is a fossil-fuel burning power plant which provides steam and chilled water for the United States Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and 19 other buildings in the Capitol Complex. Located at 25 E St SE in southeast Washington, D.C., it is the only coal-burning power plant in the District of Columbia, though it mostly uses natural gas. [1] [2] The plant has been serving the Capitol since 1910, and is under the administration of the Architect of the Capitol (see 2 U.S.C.   § 2162). Though it was originally built to supply the Capitol complex with electricity as well, the plant has not produced electricity for the Capitol since 1952. [1] Electricity generation is now handled by the same power grid and local electrical utility (Pepco) that serves the rest of metropolitan Washington. [3]

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the facility released 118,851 tons of carbon dioxide in 2007. [4] In 2009 it switched to using natural gas, unless coal was needed for backup capacity. In 2013, it was announced that the Capitol Power Plant would add a Cogeneration Plant to the CPP that will use natural gas in a combustion turbine in order to efficiently generate both electricity and heat for steam, thus further reducing emissions. A 7.5 megawatt cogeneration facility was completed at the CPP in 2018. [2]

History

The power plant was constructed under the terms of an act of Congress passed on April 28, 1904, authorized in order to support two new office buildings that were then being planned. Now known as the Cannon House Office Building and the Russell Senate Office Building, these new offices required a substantial increase in energy to Capitol Hill. In addition, the U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress would also receive power from the new plant, along with all future buildings to be constructed on the Capitol campus. [3]

Originally called the "Heating, Lighting, and Power Plant," the Capitol Power Plant was one of the earliest 25-cycle alternating current electric-generating facilities in the United States. The original steam boilers were replaced in 1923. In 1950, the steam boilers were modernized and replaced with coal-fired steam generators; at the same time, the plant's electricity generating capacity had reached its limit, and it was decided to abandon electricity production in favor of the local electrical utility. Expansion of the plant to support additional new construction was authorized in 1958, 1970, and in the early 21st century to support the opening of the Capitol Visitor Center. [3]

Controversy

Senators from coal mining states blocked a proposal in 2000 to use cleaner fuel for the plant. Senators Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky) and Robert Byrd (Democrat of West Virginia), both from coal mining states, used their influence as two of the Senate's most senior members to block this proposal. In May 2007, CNN reported that two companies, International Resources Inc. and the Kanawha Eagle mine, have a contract to supply a combined 40,000 tons of coal to the plant over the next two years. The companies gave a combined $26,300 to the McConnell and Byrd campaigns for the 2006 election. [5]

In June 2007, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the "Greening the Capitol" initiative. [6] The initiative's goal is to make the Capitol carbon neutral, and the power plant is a major obstacle to achieving this objective. [5] In November 2007, Daniel Beard, the House's Chief Administrative Officer, announced that he would purchase $89,000 worth of carbon offsets for 30,000 tons of carbon emissions. Beard made the purchase from the Chicago Climate Exchange. [7] On February 28, 2009, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to the Architect of the Capitol asking him to create a plan to switch the power plant entirely to natural gas by the end of 2009. [8] This letter came just three days before a March 2009 scheduled protest (which happened despite the change). [9]

In response to the letter from Pelosi and Reid, the Architect of the Capitol replied on May 1, 2009 that the plant had been transitioning to natural gas and was prepared to switch completely to that fuel, using coal only as a backup source. In 2008, the plant had operated on about 65% natural gas and 35% coal, compared to 58% coal in 2005. This did not end the Capitol complex's reliance on coal. Electricity is supplied by a local utility company that uses coal as a power source. [10] By 2011, coal use at the CPP was down to 5%.

In 2013, the Architect of the Capitol announced that it had "identified the construction of a cogeneration plant as the most environmentally and economically beneficial way to meet its goal to use natural gas 100% of the time." The new cogeneration unit would use 100 percent natural gas to provide power for the 23 buildings of the Capitol complex, which includes the Capitol Building, the House and Senate office buildings, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Library of Congress buildings, among others. Not only will it reduce the use of coal on-site for the chillers and boilers, but it would provide 93% of the facility's electricity. This would allow it to replace inefficient, 45% coal-generated electricity bought off the grid with more efficiently generated, on-site electricity that uses no coal. [11] They completed the permitting process for this facility in June 2013.

Emissions

Table 1: Summary of Point Source Emissions: District of Columbia in 2002 (Tons) [12]

FacilityPM2.5NOxSO2PM10
Capitol Power Plant8312948384
Pepco Benning Road Generating Station 15/1615253146767
Pepco Buzzard Point Generating Station53403905
GSA Central Heating Plant1266812
10 Miscellaneous Sources1252932014
TOTAL1271,3172,468182
Share produced by Capitol Power Plant65%10%20%46%

Table 2: Summary of Pollution Reduction at the Capitol Power Plant Following Transition to Natural Gas (Tons) [11]

Pollutants20072008200920102011
SO2460.95240.73175.3336.9848.04
NOx189.02128.79121.20105.1590.36
PM114.0833.0939.0932.9219.09
Hazardous Air Pollutants-39.6229.686.038.40
CO2e118,851--83,10378,862

Particulates

For a plant its size (roughly 1/100 the size of the typical 500 MW power plant), the Capitol Power Plant used to produce a remarkably high quantity of the type of particulate matter (PM2.5) most closely associated with human health effects. As shown in Table 1, in 2002, the plant emitted a full 65 percent of the PM2.5 emitted in the District of Columbia by fixed sources (excluding automobiles, buses, trucks, trains and shipping). With the two other large power plants in the District of Columbia closed, and the CPP transition to cleaner energy, all of the emissions have been significantly reduced.

Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM, is one of six "criteria pollutants" (PM, lead, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and ozone) regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. PM is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets in the air. When breathed in, these particles can reach the deepest regions of the lungs. Exposure to particle pollution is linked to a variety of significant health problems, ranging from aggravated asthma to premature death in people with heart and lung disease. Particle pollution also is the main cause of visibility impairment in the nation's cities and national parks. [13] Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller; and inhaleable coarse particles (PM10) are smaller than 10 micrometers and larger than 2.5 micrometers. [13]

In 2006, EPA tightened the 24-hour fine particle standard from 65 micrograms per cubic meter to 35 micrograms per cubic meter, while leaving the annual fine particle unchanged. EPA retained the annual fine particle standard at 15 micrograms per cubic meter. EPA retained the pre-existing 24-hour PM10 standard of 150 micrograms per cubic meter. Due to a lack of evidence linking health problems to long-term exposure to coarse particle pollution, the agency revoked the annual PM10 standard. [13]

Even before the EPA tightened the fine particular standard, Washington, D.C., was a "non-attainment" area. [14]

Related Research Articles

Coal Combustible sedimentary rock composed primarily of carbon

Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other elements; chiefly hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. Coal is formed when dead plant matter decays into peat and is converted into coal by the heat and pressure of deep burial over millions of years. Vast deposits of coal originate in former wetlands—called coal forests—that covered much of the Earth's tropical land areas during the late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) and Permian times.

Electricity generation Process of generating electrical power

Electricity generation is the process of generating electric power from sources of primary energy. For utilities in the electric power industry, it is the stage prior to its delivery to end users or its storage.

Power station facility generating electric power

A power station, also referred to as a power plant and sometimes generating station or generating plant, is an industrial facility for the generation of electric power. Power stations are generally connected to an electrical grid.

Incineration waste treatment process, burning material for disposal

Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high-temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas and heat. The ash is mostly formed by the inorganic constituents of the waste and may take the form of solid lumps or particulates carried by the flue gas. The flue gases must be cleaned of gaseous and particulate pollutants before they are dispersed into the atmosphere. In some cases, the heat generated by incineration can be used to generate electric power.

Cogeneration Simultaneous generation of electricity, and/or heating, or cooling, or industrial chemicals

Cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP) is the use of a heat engine or power station to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time. Trigeneration or combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) refers to the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heating and cooling from the combustion of a fuel or a solar heat collector. The terms cogeneration and trigeneration can also be applied to the power systems simultaneously generating electricity, heat, and industrial chemicals.

Flue-gas desulfurization

Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) is a set of technologies used to remove sulfur dioxide from exhaust flue gases of fossil-fuel power plants, and from the emissions of other sulfur oxide emitting processes such as waste incineration.

Fossil fuel power station Facility that burns fossil fuels to produce electricity

A fossil fuel power station is a thermal power station which burns a fossil fuel, such as coal or natural gas, to produce electricity. Fossil fuel power stations have machinery to convert the heat energy of combustion into mechanical energy, which then operates an electrical generator. The prime mover may be a steam turbine, a gas turbine or, in small plants, a reciprocating gas engine. All plants use the energy extracted from expanding gas, either steam or combustion gases. Although different energy conversion methods exist, all thermal power station conversion methods have efficiency limited by the Carnot efficiency and therefore produce waste heat.

Navajo Generating Station Decommissioned coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation

Navajo Generating Station was a 2.25-gigawatt, coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation, near Page, Arizona United States. This plant provided electrical power to customers in Arizona, Nevada, and California. It also provided the power for pumping Colorado River water for the Central Arizona Project, supplying about 1.5 million acre feet (1.85 km3) of water annually to central and southern Arizona. As of 2017 permission to operate as a conventional coal-fired plant was anticipated until 2017-2019, and to December 22, 2044 if extended. However, in 2017, the utility operators of the power station voted to close the facility when the lease expires in 2019. In March 2019, the Navajo Nation ended efforts to buy the plant and continue running it after the lease expires.

Thermal power station power plant in which heat energy is converted to electric power

A thermal power station is a power station in which heat energy is converted to electric power. In most, a steam-driven turbine converts heat to mechanical power as an intermediate to electrical power. Water is heated, turns into steam and drives a steam turbine which drives an electrical generator. After it passes through the turbine the steam is condensed in a condenser and recycled to where it was heated. This is known as a Rankine cycle. The greatest variation in the design of thermal power stations is due to the different heat sources: fossil fuel, nuclear energy, solar energy, biofuels, and waste incineration are all used. Certain thermal power stations are also designed to produce heat for industrial purposes, for district heating, or desalination of water, in addition to generating electrical power.

Southeast Steam Plant Heat and power plant in Minnesota

The Southeast Steam Plant, formerly known as the Twin City Rapid Transit Company Steam Power Plant, is a combined heat and power plant on the Mississippi River in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States owned by the University of Minnesota.

Coal-fired power station facility that converts coal into electricity

A coal-fired power station or coal power plant is a thermal power station which burns coal to generate electricity. Coal-fired power stations generate over a third of the world's electricity but cause hundreds of thousands of early deaths each year, mainly from air pollution.

Gas-fired power plant One or more generators which convert natural gas into electricity

A gas-fired power plant or gas-fired power station or natural gas power plant is a thermal power station which burns natural gas to generate electricity. Natural gas power stations generate a quarter of world electricity and a significant part of global greenhouse gas emissions and thus global warming. However they can provide seasonal dispatchable generation to balance variable renewable energy where hydropower or interconnectors are not available.

Coal power in the United States

Coal power in the United States accounted for 39% of the country's electricity production at utility-scale facilities in 2014, 33% in 2015, 30.4% in 2016, 30.0% in 2017, 27.4% in 2018, and 23.5% in 2019. Coal supplied 12.6 quadrillion Btu (3,700 TWh) of primary energy to electric power plants in 2017, which made up 91% of coal's contribution to US energy supply. Utilities buy more than 90% of the coal consumed in the United States.

Health and environmental impact of the coal industry

The health and environmental impact of the coal industry includes issues such as land use, waste management, water and air pollution, caused by the coal mining, processing and the use of its products. In addition to atmospheric pollution, coal burning produces hundreds of millions of tons of solid waste products annually, including fly ash, bottom ash, and flue-gas desulfurization sludge, that contain mercury, uranium, thorium, arsenic, and other heavy metals. Coal is the largest contributor to the human-made increase of CO
2
in the atmosphere.

Particulate pollution is pollution of an environment that consists of particles suspended in some medium. There are three primary forms: atmospheric particulate matter, marine debris, and space debris. Some particles are released directly from a specific source, while others form in chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Particulate pollution can be derived from either natural sources or anthropogenic processes.

Particulates microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the Earths atmosphere

Particulates – also known as atmospheric aerosol particles, atmospheric particulate matter, particulate matter (PM), or suspended particulate matter (SPM) – are microscopic particles of solid or liquid matter suspended in the air. The term aerosol commonly refers to the particulate/air mixture, as opposed to the particulate matter alone. Sources of particulate matter can be natural or anthropogenic. They have impacts on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health, in ways additional to direct inhalation.

T. B. Simon Power Plant

T.B. Simon Power Plant is a multi-fuel cogeneration facility located on the East Lansing campus of Michigan State University. With a peak electrical output of 99.3 megawatts and a pressurized steam generation capacity of 1.3 million pounds per hour, it is one of the 500 largest power plants. The Simon Power Plant is the principal energy provider to the 45,000-student main campus, meeting approximately 97% of all energy demand. Pressurized steam is distributed throughout the campus through an extensive network of tunnels to provide both heating and cooling to approximately 500 instructional, research, and residential buildings located on more than 5,000 acres (2,000 ha). Electrical power is distributed through the same tunnels, making the campus relatively immune from outages due to weather. The primary fuel for T. B. Simon is natural gas; with the 1993 addition of Unit No. 4 the plant acquired the capability of burning biofuel. Simon's east smokestack identifies its operator with the letters M S U in white brick.

2013 Eastern China smog

The 2013 Eastern China smog was a severe air pollution episode that affected East China, including all or parts of the municipalities of Shanghai and Tianjin, and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, and Zhejiang, during December 2013. A lack of cold air flow, combined with slow-moving air masses carrying industrial emissions, collected airborne pollutants to form a thick layer of smog over the region. Levels of PM2.5 particulate matter averaged over 150 micrograms per cubic metre; in some areas, they were 300 to 500 micrograms per cubic metre.

Clean Power Plan United States energy plan from President Obama

The Clean Power Plan was an Obama administration policy aimed at combating anthropogenic climate change that was first proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2014. The final version of the plan was unveiled by President Obama on August 3, 2015. The 460-page rule titled "Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units" was published in the Federal Register on October 23, 2015. The Obama administration designed the plan to lower the carbon dioxide emitted by power generators. The plan was widely expected to be eliminated under President Donald Trump, who signed an executive order on March 28, 2017 mandating the EPA to review the plan. On June 1, 2017, the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement.

Air pollution in Taiwan

Air pollution in Taiwan is mostly derived from sources of domestic combustion, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. Taiwan's topography has been noted to be a contributing factor to its air pollution problem, leading to poor dispersal and trapping pollutants. Taipei, Taiwan's capital and largest city for example, is surrounded by mountains, and other industrial centers along the northern and western coasts of Taiwan are surrounded by high mountains.

References

  1. 1 2 Layton, Lyndsey (April 21, 2007). "Reliance on Coal Sullies 'Green the Capitol' Effort". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Cogeneration Addition at the Capitol Power Plant". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 "Capitol Power Plant". Explore Capitol Hill. Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  4. "Capitol power plant dims clean energy hopes." Associated Press.
  5. 1 2 "Effort to 'green' U.S. Capitol complicated by coal". CNN.
  6. Greening the Capitol Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. Weisman, Jonathan (November 5, 2007). "Capitol to Buy Offsets in Bid to Go Green". The Washington Post.
  8. "Speaker Blog".
  9. Anti-coal campaign gets some good news, but battle is far from won Archived February 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  10. "Congress to Stop Using Coal in Power Plant". nbcnews. April 5, 2009. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  11. 1 2 "Capitol Power Plan Cogeneration Fact Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  12. Base Year 2002 Emissions Inventory Document for Washington, DC-MD-VA Annual PM2.5 NAA_12.14.07, Attachment A1, page 2, "Summary of Point Source Emissions: District of Columbia," [ permanent dead link ] Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Air Quality Files
  13. 1 2 3 "PM Standards Revision - 2006," Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  14. EPA, US. "Green Book - US EPA".