OMU coal unit expected back online after 'burn through'

Louisville, Kentucky (Platts)--11 Jan 2018 639 pm EST/2339 GMT

A 185-MW unit at Owensboro Municipal Utilities' Elmer Smith power plant is expected to be back online by the end of this week after experiencing a "burn through" Monday morning, according to Jim Roberts, fuels and byproducts manager for the western Kentucky muni.

Unit 1, a circulating fluidized bed unit, is the smaller of Smith's two coal units. The other, 240-MW Unit 2, has continued to operate through what largely has been a cold start to the new year in Owensboro.

Unit 1 was just returned to service in early December after it was idled for economic reasons for most of the fall.

The recent cold weather has helped to reduce OMU's once-bulging coal inventory to 42 days.

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"We had 14 days of good burn at the end of December and the first of January, then we had the burn through on Unit 1," Roberts observed.

With Unit 1 running again, "we're going to make a good dent [in the stockpile] for the rest of January."

Ice, snow and more cold weather are forecast for the Owensboro area starting Friday. If everything falls into place -- a continued cold winter followed by an equally hot summer -- the muni plans later this year to lift a nearly two-year force majeure with its five coal suppliers, Roberts said.

OMU has been taking only about 80,000 st/month from its suppliers: Peabody Energy, Armstrong Coal, KenAmerican Resources, Western Kentucky Minerals and Sun Energy. Without the force majeure, it would be accepting 110,000-115,000 st/month.

OMU's contracts with Peabody, Armstrong and KenAmerican extend through 2018, while contracts with Western Kentucky Minerals and Sun Energy continue through 2019.

--Bob Matyi,

--Edited by Derek Sands,

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