Columbia power plant undergoes testing, before new EPA rule

Mar 9, 2012

The Columbia power plant will soon get a check up ahead of an Environmental Protection Agency rule that will be enacted in the coming years.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross State Air Pollution rule aims to limit the emissions of coal burning power plants in the next two to four years. The Columbia Municipal Power Plant is a coal plant that supplies eight percent of the city’s power. Plant superintendent Christian Johanningmeier says it has been determined possible to bring the plant within compliance, but the cost to do that is the next question. An agency has been selected to study the plant and make that determination: "The study will be unprecedented for the history of plant. We are actually going to do an extensive amount of non destructive and some destructive testing. We will be looking at all the various tubes and piping and cutting out pieces and doing metallurgical testing.”

Karl Skala is the chair of the Columbia Environment and Energy Commission. He says the organization will be involved in the analysis of that data: “The preliminary data that we’ll absolutely have to have is what is the lifespan of this plant should we make some changes to it, or how long could we extend its life, if that answer comes up short, then it frankly probably is not worth the investment in this particular plant.”

The tests would be conducted during the early spring when power usage as at a low. Johanningmeier says there will be no interruptions in service.