Public Information Night Scheduled to Explain Power Plant Conversion

Wilkesville, Ohio—A public information night has been scheduled at the Wilkesville Community Center on Thursday, March 29, 2012, to explain potential plans to convert the Rolling Hills Generating Station from a peaker plant to a combined-cycle plant.

The public is invited to meet one-on-one with Rolling Hills experts who will be at information stations between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Peaker plants typically operate when there is a high demand for electricity, such as hot days and cold nights. Combined-cycle plants typically operate around the clock to provide a part of the basic power supply.

Under the plan, the plant would keep 20 percent of its peaker capacity while converting four of its five units to become a combined-cycle generating facility.

A request to connect the new facilities was made in September 2011 with the PJM Interconnection, an organization responsible for power transmission reliability. Until the PJM responds with an approval, timing of the conversion is unknown.

“The earliest date the conversion project will be operating is in 2016, but that is dependent upon when the project receives the required permits and approvals,” said Jeffery James, project manager for Rolling Hills. “Converting the plant would take 30 months to construct, and require as many as 400 workers at peak construction.”

Construction would not begin before 2014, James said. He added that job applications will not be accepted at the information night; however, the project construction contractor will be expected to offer jobs locally.

As utilities discontinue operating aging coal plants, Rolling Hills management believes there will be a market for the natural gas-fueled baseload power, James said.

If the plant is converted, approximately 20 operating and maintenance employees would be needed in addition to the current eight employees at the Rolling Hills Generating Station.

Fueled by natural gas, combined-cycle plants are energy efficient. Natural gas would fuel four existing gas turbine-electric generator sets, while excess heat from the turbines would be used to generate steam to drive two new steam turbine-generator sets. The result is more electricity from the same amount of fuel and reduced emissions on a per-megawatt basis.