BPcogeneration hearing is April 3

Published on Thu, Mar 8, 2007 by eg Olson

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BP cogeneration hearing is April 3

By Meg Olson

A public hearing for the final permit needed by the BP Cherry Point refinery prior to construction of its cogeneration plant at the refinery will be held April 3 in Blaine, hosted by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).

The hearing is preceded by a public comment period that began March 2 and lasts until April 6, 2007. A detailed description of the project is available during that time at the Blaine library.

The cogeneration project was first proposed several years ago as a partnership involving the Canadian energy conglomerate Trans Canada which has since pulled out of the project. BP Cherry Point’s Mike Abendhoff said that the new permit is necessary “because we changed the project, eliminating one of the gas-fired turbines, and reducing the output from 720 megawatts down to 520.”

For perspective on just how much power that is, Abendhoff said, “the refinery itself will use about 100 megawatts a year of that, and the rest will go into the northwest power grid.”

Abendhof explained that cogeneration is attractive as a power source because of its efficiency.

“We bring in natural gas through a pipeline to run turbines that are about ten times the size of what you see on a passenger plane. They generate electricity directly, and then instead of dissipating the waste heat they put off it’s used in the form of steam for many refinery applications, among them to power other, smaller turbines. We can wring a lot of energy out of a cubic foot of gas,” Abendhof said.
He said that it’s a good “bridge source” of power generation as solutions to greenhouse gas emissions are sought “because it puts out less of that, less carbon monoxide (CO), per British Thermal Unit (BTU) generated.” A BTU is a standard measurement of heat.

The term cogeneration means that two kinds of energy are produced from one source at the same time. “It’s twice-used energy,” said former ConocoPhillips Petroleum executive John Bennitt, who lives in Blaine. “Cogeneration simultaneously generates electricity and heat. For example, a power plant, as part of the process of generating electricity, makes heat.  

Usually, that heat goes through cooling towers. But a co-gen will send the heat to places where it can be useful. Since electricity’s a lot easier to send over a distance than heat, the plant needs to be close to where the heat is used, in this case at the refinery in the form of steam.”

BP Cherry Point was issued a Notice of Construction/Prevention of Significant Deterioration (NOC/PSD) air quality permit for the original project in 2005, but sought an amendment last year when the project was down-sized from three turbines to two.