SaskPower has retired another unit at the Boundary Dam Power Station, but the move isn't expected to result in any job losses.
Unit 2 was expected to come off-line on either August 19 or 20, after more than 53 years of generating electricity for Saskatchewan residents. The decision to permanently shut down Unit 2 came a little more than a year after Unit 1 at Boundary Dam was mothballed.
Tim Schuster, who is the manger of the Boundary Dam Power Station, said they kept Unit 2 on-line until mid-August because Unit 4 was shut down for an overhaul. SaskPower wanted to be sure that Unit 4 was stable before Unit 2 permanently ceased operations.
"Unit 2, after a very long and successful run of 53 years, is an old unit, and it was just deemed not to be economically feasible to retrofit Unit 2," said Schuster.
Federal regulations dictate that any coal-fired unit that is at least 50 years of age has to be retrofitted before the summer of 2015, Schuster said.
"We had a look at the life of Unit 2, and it just wasn't considered feasible to extend it any further," said Schuster.
The gross generating capacity for Unit 2 was 65 megawatts, which is about the same as Unit 1.
Units 1 and 2 were part of Boundary Dam's A plant. The A plant will remain open, although not in a power generating capacity. It will remain the site of Boundary Dam's water treatment zone and coal handling area. Some of the other support services needed to operate the power station will remain at A plant.
Some of the Unit 2 employees will stay in A plant, and assist with those operations. Others will be transferred to jobs in other areas of the plant, Schuster said.
"Operators, for example, we've identified where they'll be redistributed within the plant, and they already have their assignments for what part of the plant, or the carbon capture facility, they'll be going to," said Schuster.
Maintenance people will initially remain at Unit 2 for the decommissioning phase – making the unit is safe now that it's off-line. Their tasks will include disconnecting the wiring, cleaning out the bunkers, making the turbine generators safe to be inactive, and ensuring there won't be spills from the unit.
They'll be reassigned elsewhere in the plant after the decommissioning work is complete.
Schuster is hopeful that this will be the last time that a power production unit at Boundary Dam is taken off-line. The integrated carbon capture and storage project at Boundary Dam is nearly complete, and it could ensure the viability of Boundary Dam for decades to come.
Unit 3 has been retrofitted, and has been back on-line for over a month. Some testing and preparation work is still needed to get it ready for full-load operations. The carbon capture island is expected to be on-line in early September.
"Once that's done, the … projects of rebuilding BD 3 and getting the carbon capture plant going will actually be completed, and operations will be underway," said Schuster.
A grand opening for Unit 3 and the carbon capture island is slated for October 2.
SaskPower will then study Units 4 and 5 at Boundary Dam, and decide whether a retrofit for those units is feasible.
"I'm very optimistic that once we get (Unit) 3 going, we can turn our attention to those units, and prepare for them to be converted in the future," said Schuster.