St Nicholas Cogeneration Plant

The St. Nicholas Cogeneration plant was constructed in 1989 to convert the culm bank from the long abandoned St. Nick Breaker. This is done by removing the culm with large earth movers and dumping it onto conveyors going to the small breaker. This small breaker cleans the culm and separates the coal from rock. It also removes large pieces of rock and discards them to a pile outside. Then the culm is sent to the plant on a conveyor that is almost a mile long at a rate of 425 tons per hour. Upon reaching the plant the culm is pulverized to ash and sent through a network of pipes until it is injected into the furnace at a rate of 150 tons per hour. This furnace has a temperature on average of 1,575 degrees. It heats water brought to the plant from several sources. About 30% of this water is from the abandoned Maple Hill shaft. The rest is brought from nearby dams. The mine water is passed through several filters until it is as good, or better than tap water. This water is passed into a boiler at 1600 gallons per minute heated by the furnace and turned into steam. This steam passes through pipes to reach the turbine-generator which creates about 92 megawatts of power. 12 megawatts comes back to power the plant and the rest is sold to power companies. This means that the plant is completely self-running. There is 63,000 gallons of water per minute pumped throughout the plant for cooling, most of it is for condensing the steam that went through the turbine turning it back into water so it can go back into the boiler. There are about 60 employees at the plant.

Harrison Kranch who is a control room operator invited us to the plant for a tour.