At least three electric utilities are seeking to retrofit aging coal-fueled plants to burn biomass in order to keep costs down, meet renewable portfolio standards and avoid having to comply with new emissions rules. “A lot of these coal plants are entering the twilight of their years,” says Dave O’Connor, manager of combustion performance for the Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, Calif. Repowering “is much cheaper than building a new greenfield plant and is a very cost-effective way to give them a new purpose.” Photo: Georgia Power Co. Georgia Power has received permission for Plant Mitchell’s $103-million conversion. O’Connor
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.