NRG Energy readies coal-to-gas switch at Big Cajun II unit

A new grid interconnection agreement covers an uprate related to this project

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Entergy Services, as agent for transmission owner Entergy Gulf States Louisiana LLC, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a change related to a 15-MW uprate, and a coal-to-gas switch, of a unit at the coal-fired Big Cajun II power plant in Louisiana.

The change is reflected in a new Standard Large Generator Interconnection Agreement (LGIA) between Entergy Gulf States Louisiana and NRG Energy’s (NYSE: NRG) Louisiana Generating LLC for Big Cajun II. The LGIA supersedes an existing generator interconnection agreement between the parties.

In November 2012, Entergy Gulf States filed an LGIA with Louisiana Generating for the Big Cajun II facility to reflect a capacity uprate of 13 MW. FERC accepted that agreement.

“Louisiana Generating plans to undertake a further capacity uprate of the Big Cajun II generating facility to increase its generating capacity by 15 MW,” the Jan. 16 filing said. “Louisiana Generating’s planned capacity uprate was studied and approved by Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (‘MISO’), the regional transmission provider. The planned Big Cajun II uprate is expected to be placed in service in the fall of 2014. Entergy Gulf States Louisiana tendered the LGIA to Louisiana Generating for execution and the agreement is fully executed.”

The new LGIA itself said about this new uprate project: “Interconnection Customer has requested a 15 MW power uprate of Big Cajun II, Unit #2. The power uprate will be achieved by converting Unit #2 from coal-fired, as is presently the case, to gas-fired generation. This conversion is expected to ‘free up’ about 15 MW of auxiliary load on Unit #2 which in turn is expected to increase its net power output by 15 MW. The conversion does not involve any changes to the turbine-governor, generator, excitation system and power system stabilizer on Unit #2.”

The 15-MW uprate would increase Unit 2’s output to 590 MW. Unit 1 at the plant is currently at 593 MW and Unit 3 at 588 MW, for a new total of 1,771 MW for all three units.

NRG had reported some time ago that it planned to switch Unit 2 to gas in 2014, with nothing much on that point said lately. It has planned to keep Units 1 and 3 on coal, with new air emissions retrofits installed. U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows the plant getting its coal in 2013 from various Wyoming Powder River Basin mines, including the North Antelope Rochelle mine of Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) and the Black Thunder mine of Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI).

Barry Cassell
About the Author

Barry Cassell

Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 26 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.

Barry can be reached at barryc@pennwell.com.

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