Coleson Cove's petroleum coke plan gets green light
The Coleson Cove power plant can burn petroleum coke for up to a year as part of a test project, after approval was grantedMonday by the provincial Department of Environment.
The departmentgave the project the green light after an environmental impact assessment,said project assessment branch director Paul Vanderlaan.
NB Power plans to test petroleum coke as an alternative to burning much more expensive Bunker C oil, with a projected savings of approximately $30 million per year. Petroleum coke is a solid derived from processes at oil refineries and can be burned like coal.
Environmentalists have pointed out the material contains moresulphur than the heavy fuel oil being burned at the plant right now.
NB Power will likely start modifications at the plant, which is located about 10 kilometres west of SaintJohn,right away, said Vanderlaan.
The utility had hoped to burn Orimulsion fuel from Venezuela atColeson Coveto save money, overhauling the plant at a cost of nearly $1 billion, but Venezuela stopped selling the fuel, causing the deal to fall through more than three years ago.
The petroleum coke plan has drawn fire from New Brunswick environmentalists, who say Coleson Cove is the largest fossil fuel burning power plant east of Ontario, and when it's running at full capacity emits more greenhouse gases than any single plant in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador or Quebec.
That stands to get worse if the plant is allowed to burn petroleum coke, which emits about 25 per cent more greenhouse gases than either coal or oil, according to NB Power's application to the Environment Department.
Petroleum coke is already being burned, along with coal, at NB Power's plant in Belledune, a city north of Bathurst.
If the tests are favourable at Coleson Cove,the utilityhas said it could convert up to three units at the plantto burn the fuel in 2008.