NRG Energy rolled out plans Tuesday for a project that will reduce air emissions at its Dover power plant and create up to 75 jobs within the next two years.


NRG Energy rolled out plans Tuesday for a project that will reduce air emissions at its Dover power plant and create up to 75 jobs within the next two years.

The company will decommission its coal-fueled steam boiler and install a natural gas, low nitrogen oxide-fired boiler in its place. One of the plant’s two existing combustion turbines will be converted to a combined cycle operation allowing the company to continue serving its steam and electric customers.

Gov. Jack Markell and DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara visited the Dover site on West North Street Tuesday to celebrate what state officials are calling a milestone for Delaware.

The state awarded NRG Energy Center Dover an air quality construction permit, as well as a $500,000 grant from the Delaware Energy Efficiency Investment Fund, which was established by the General Assembly last year.

“NRG’s investments in Kent County will create local jobs, reduce energy consumption and improve air quality for citizens,” Markell said. “The state’s energy efficiency grant supports NRG’s investment in technology that powers a cleaner future for the company and the community.”

By using natural gas at the plant, O’Mara said this conversion will result in a 99 percent reduction of Sulfur Dioxide emissions and 92 percent of Nitrogen Oxide emissions.

“This project will transform the state’s last legacy coal-burning unit into one of the cleanest heat and power generators in the country,” he said.

NRG Thermal President Michael Carroll said construction is anticipated to begin in April and the company hopes to be fully operational with new equipment in place by June 2013. NRG will invest $360 million in the project.

The Dover facility was built in 1984 and currently produces electrical power and heat through an 18-megawatt electrical steam turbine generator. Electric power is sold to PJM Interconnection, while steam is sold to the site’s neighbors, Kraft Foods and Proctor and Gamble for their process needs.

“We want to get more worth,” Carroll said. “These are peaking units so they only operate maybe 200 hours a year. From a plant perspective the capacity doesn’t change, but how we’re making that capacity changes. So then we hope to run them instead of 400 hours a year, maybe 4,000 hours a year.”

Dover Mayor Carlton Carey said this project will have long-term benefits.

 “It’s important that we look at long range,” Carey said. “By converting this plant over, it’s going to create long-range stability for this plant’s operations. NRG is being a good neighbor and doing what they think is the right thing to do to help everybody.”