The Lowman Energy Center (LEC) is a 640MW gas-fired, combined-cycle power project under construction to replace the aged and retired Charles R. Lowman coal-fired power plant in Alabama, US.
PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, previously known as the Alabama Electric Cooperative, is the owner and developer of the project.
PowerSouth received key environmental permits for the gas-fired power project by August 2019, while the construction works were started in June 2020 with the plant commissioning expected by June 2023.
Location and site details
The Lowman Energy Center combined-cycle power project is located outside of the unincorporated community Leroy, in Washington County, Alabama, US.
The project site occupies approximately six acres within the coal pile area of the old coal-fired power station, on the west bank of the Tombigbee River.
Lowman Energy Center plant make-up
The Lowman Energy Center will comprise an M501JAC class gas turbine, a steam turbine, and three heat recovery steam generators (HRSG).
While the gas turbine is designed to reduce carbon emissions by 65%, the power plant will make use of robust water cooling and air quality standards.
The combined-cycle facility will also be equipped with a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system for NOx emissions control, and an oxygen catalyst to mitigate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions.
The associated equipment includes an air inlet chamber, boiler feedwater pumps, control equipment, continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS), pumps, conditioning equipment, cooling tower, and a 180ft-tall metal stack, apart from the electrical equipment including step-up and auxiliary transformers.
While the gas-fired power station will utilise the existing infrastructure of the retired coal-fired units, the new supporting facilities at the site will include a 2,500kW backup diesel-fired generator.
The infrastructure facilities retained from the old power plant site include the river water intake system, water treatment facilities, water discharge system, ammonia handling, and storage system, existing onsite transmission lines and substation, workshops, warehouses, and other administrative buildings, along with the pre-existing roads.
Natural gas supply
Lowman Energy Center will receive the natural gas supply from the Kinder Morgan and Gulf South Pipelines through 51.5 miles-long, 16in-diameter pipeline.
The gas pipeline will also involve the construction of a 3,800HP compressor station and three metering stations.
The water for the Lowman Energy Center combined-cycle project will be sourced through the existing intake structure on the Tombigbee River.
The existing pumps at the intake water structure will be replaced with an intake pump and a redundant spare.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Services (RUS) provided a fund of £389.3m ($540m) for the Lowman Energy Center project in March 2021.
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) was contracted by PowerSouth for the supply of an M501JAC gas turbine set along with a long-term service agreement for the Lowman Energy Center in November 2019.
Vogt will supply three heat recovery steam generators (HRSG) for the combined-cycle power project.
Black and Veatch was selected for the engineering and construction management services for the project in March 2019.
Casey Industrial, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MasTec Company, was contracted by PowerSouth for the installation of mechanical equipment for the project in January 2021
While HGA Pipeline Services will provide the survey, engineering, and design services for the gas pipeline, NextEra Energy is responsible for the pipeline construction.
Burns and McDonnell was engaged in the preparation of the environmental assessment report for the project.
Charles R. Lowman coal-fired power plant
The Charles R. Lowman coal-fired power station comprised three units with a total generating capacity of 556MW. The first unit began operations in 1969, while the second and third units were commissioned in 1979 and 1980 respectively.
The plant was upgraded with a flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) system and other quality improvements, as well as a new barge unloader in March 2011.
The first unit was shut down in March 2020, while the second and third units were officially closed in October 2020.