Michigan State nears end of coal use at power plant

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University's power plant in East Lansing will run only on natural gas after the last of its coal reserves are used this spring.

The university announced plans last year to phase out coal use at the T.B. Simon Power Plant by the end of 2016. Bob Ellerhorst, director of utilities, told the Lansing State Journal (http://on.lsj.com/1ZnqgjI ) that the university has about 8,000 tons of coal that it plans to exhaust in the spring. The plant on the south end of campus ran on only gas in December.

In the past at this time of year, Ellerhorst said the plant would have had 40,000 tons of coal waiting to be used. He said upward of 250,000 tons of coal was burned annually at the in years past at the plant, which generates steam for heating and electrical power.

For the plant to continue using coal, the university would have had to spend $4 million to $7 million to install chlorine controls to comply with federal regulatory changes set to begin next year.

Ellerhorst said the cost of natural gas recently is an advantage for the school.

"Natural gas has been doing nothing but getting cheaper in recent years," he said.

Getting rid of coal also means the end of using biofuel at the plant, as the process involved burning a mix of coal and plant mass. Ellerhorst said the loss of biofuels will be more than made up for with projects such as the university's solar panel parking bays, which are set for construction later this year.


Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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