November 18, 2020

Xcel Energy’s Harrington Station goes off coal by 2025

Xcel Energy Press Release
Source – Xcel Energy
Posted 11/16/2020

AMARILLO, Texas – Xcel Energy plans to convert its coal-fueled Harrington Generating Station northeast of Amarillo to a natural gas fuel system by Jan. 1, 2025, a practical and lower cost option for helping the area attain higher federal clean air standards.

“Natural gas power generation allows us to use a regionally-produced commodity to provide energy to thousands of area customers as we continue on our path to a clean energy future,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas. “Additionally, gas-fired generation is easier to ramp up and down to complement our growing supply of clean wind energy.”

The decision to convert the plant from coal to natural gas was made in concert with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which is seeking to keep Potter County, where Harrington is located, in attainment with air quality standards that limit combined sulfur dioxide emissions from multiple sources. While there are other emitters of SO2 in the county, the conversion at Harrington has the most impact in keeping the county’s total emissions within federal attainment standards.

Xcel Energy studied other options for reducing SO2 emissions at Harrington, but the high cost of these technologies made less sense considering the age of Harrington’s three generating units.

“While we anticipate some costs to convert Harrington to natural gas, all three of the plant’s boilers were designed to burn both coal and natural gas, which greatly reduces the cost of conversion,” Hudson said. “The existing boiler, steam turbines and electric generators will continue to be used as they have since the 1970s.”

Harrington has a generating capacity of 1,018 megawatts and was the company’s first coal-fueled power plant in Texas when Unit 1 went into service in 1976. Units 2 and 3 pioneered the use of baghouses to capture particulate matter from coal combustion, and the plant’s success as an efficient, low-cost resource led to the construction of Tolk Generating Station near Muleshoe, Texas, in the 1980s. Tolk is scheduled to be retired in 2032, at which point no power plants in the region will be fueled by coal.

Coal once accounted for half or more of the area’s electricity generation, but its share of the fuel mix fell to 25% last year. Natural gas generation accounted for 47% of the region’s power supply with wind bringing in 26%. The remaining 2% came from solar generating facilities in New Mexico.

In December, Xcel Energy will place the Sagamore Wind Project in service, a 522-megawatt wind energy facility in Roosevelt County, New Mexico. Sagamore is the latest phase of a major expansion of wind energy on Xcel Energy’s Texas-New Mexico system that was announced in 2017. Last year, the company completed the 478-megawatt Hale Wind Project near Plainview, Texas, which lowered fuel costs to customers by close to $80 million annually.

“Our focus has shifted to renewable energy and low-cost natural gas as we continue our move toward a clean energy future,” Hudson said. “And our ongoing commitment to reliability and affordability will ensure these changes are in the best interest of our area customers.”

Additional Information About Harrington Station

·         Power Production Capability: 1,018 megawatts

·         Unit 1: 339 megawatts | Unit 2: 339 megawatts | Unit 3: 340 megawatts

·         Commercial Operation Dates:

·         Unit 1: 1976 | Unit 2: 1978 | Unit 3: 1980

·         Generation type: Coal-fired steam turbines

·         Location: Northeast of Amarillo, Texas (Potter County)

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