Coal-fired Plant in MO Soon to Burn Biomass

John Davis

columbiawaterlightA Central Missouri coal-burning power plant that’s been around for more than 100 years will soon get new life using biomass as its fuel. This story from KOMU-TV says Columbia Water and Light’s Municipal Power Plant burned its last coal on Sept. 22 and is undergoing changes to burn the cleaner biomass.

[Columbia Water and Light spokesperson Connie] Kacprowicz said Columbia’s energy efficiency initiative is part of the reason the plant is undergoing changes. In 2004, voters passed the energy mandate before the city council increased the percentages. The ordinance says Columbia must generate 15 percent of its electric sales from renewable sources by 2018. The percentages jump to 25 percent by 2023 and 30 percent by 2029. Kacprowicz said Water and Light is experimenting with several alternatives to coal.

“Our plans at this point are to test out more biomass, which is an approved renewable resource according to Columbia’s ordinance,” Kacprowicz said. “But you can’t just all of a sudden switch from coal to biomass.”

Kacprowicz said the city must either find a biomass that mimics coal or switch out some of the equipment at the plant. The plant was burning small amounts of wood, a type of biomass source, in addition to its coal production.

Christian Johanningmeier, the power production superintendent, said the plant’s experience burning wood makes it a good candidate as an alternative energy source.

“We are looking at converting one of our boilers to 100 percent wood,” Johanningmeier said. “We have lots of years of experience burning the wood and we know that’s a good fuel, it’s readily available and it seems like it works good for us.”