According to AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry, the company is investigating the use of biodiesel-blended fuel oil as a possible compliance strategy to meet Ohio’s alternative energy requirements. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio adopted rules to implement its alternative energy portfolio in April 2009, which requires 25 percent of electricity sold within the state to be generated from alternative energy. In addition, at least half that amount must come from renewable energy resources, including wind, biomass, hydro or fuel cell. Electric utilities and service companies are able to use renewable energy credits to satisfy all or part of their renewable energy requirements. According to McHenry, the standard allows renewable energy credits to be generated through the use of biodiesel-blended fuel oil.
The biodiesel-blended fuel oil would replace petroleum fuel oil used for flame start-up and flame stabilization. Pulverized coal plants have large boilers, which McHenry said are essentially large boxes with flame in them that are lined with tubes containing water. The water is flashed to steam, which then fuels the generator. “If a plant shuts down and you need to restart it, you have to start that process flame with fuel oil,” McHenry said. “Then you blow in pulverized coal to keep the flame burning. They also sometimes use fuel oil in the process to maintain the flame to ensure that you are getting the most efficient flame, so you are getting the most efficient transfer of water into steam.”
The utility is looking to acquire three different blends of biodiesel, depending on the time of year it is used: B99.9 for use between April 15 to Oct. 14, B50 for Oct. 15 through Dec. 14, and B30 from Dec. 15 to April 14. AEP officials believe 1.4 million gallons of fuel oil could be replaced. Quotes are due to AEP by 5 pm on September 23.