Scrubgrass Generating Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

Scrubgrass Generating Plant is a 94.7-megawatt (MW) waste coal-fired power station owned and operated by Q Power LLC and Olympus Power LLC near Kennerdell, Pennsylvania.

As of 2021, an on-site crypto-mining data center is planned and the power plant's capacity may expand.

Location

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Scrubgrass Generating Company, LP
  • Parent Company: Q Power LLC (70%), Olympus Power (30%)[1][2]
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 94.7 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 94.7 MW (1993)
  • Location: 2151 Lisbon Rd., Kennerdell, PA 16374
  • Coordinates: 41.268582, -79.813664 (exact)
  • Technology: Subcritical Fluidized Bed Technology
  • Coal type: Bituminous Waste Coal
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Mcclure Strip (coal valley), No 14 plant (coal valley), Nectarine (coal valley), Murrinsville Plant (Coal Valley)[3]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements:

Emissions Data

  • CO2 Emissions: 940,012 tons (2006)
  • SO2 Emissions: 1,449 tons (2002)
  • SO2 Emissions per MWh: 4.42 lb/MWh
  • NOx Emissions: 587 tons (2002)
  • Mercury Emissions:

Ownership

Scrubgrass Generating Co. LP owns and operates the facility (and it is the only physical asset owned, operated, managed, or controlled by Scrubgrass). The facility is interconnected to the transmission system owned by Pennsylvania Electric and operated by PJM Interconnection.[2]

In 2014, there was a transfer of a 30% indirect limited partnership interest in Scrubgrass Generating from Venango Power LLC, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of ArcLight Energy Partners Fund II LP, to Scrubgrass LP Holdings LLC, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Olympus Power LLC. Scrubgrass was indirectly owned by Olympus Power LLC (30%) and private equity funds managed and controlled by Ares EIF Management LLC (70%).[2]

In late 2016, EIF’s indirect 70% interests in Scrubgrass were sold to Q Power LLC, a special-purpose, wholly-owned affiliate thereof created solely for the purposes of consummating the transactions provided for under the Purchase and Sale Agreement. Olympus Power LLC’s 30% upstream interest in Scrubgrass was not affected by the agreement.[4]

According to a June 2021 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gregory A. Beard serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chairman of Stronghold Digital Mining, Inc. and is a managing member of Q Power LLC.[5][6]

Cryptocurrency Mining

Tougher emissions rules during President Obama's administration would have closed down coal waste burning plants like Scrubgrass, but Scrubgrass dodged those rules by a "questionable move" - classifying itself as mining operations to gain four years' exemption. Under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rules were loosened again and plants like Scrubgrass were able to continue operating.[7][8]

Stronghold Digital Mining, Inc. (Stronghold), a subsidiary of Q Power LLC, is now involved at the site.[6][9] The company describes itself as an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) "friendly" crypto-mining firm, arguing that burning the waste coal enables it to clean up contaminated sites. Investors in the firm include MG Capital, and Stronghold CEO and chairman Greg Beard. Stronghold has said that the electricity generated at Scrubgrass would be uneconomical without the on-site crypto-mining data center it plans to build.[8]

Scrubgrass's website claimed the following in July 2021: "We have built the infrastructure to handle all cryptocurrency hardware. We currently have eASIC, Bitfury and Whatsminer running with upwards of 600 miners as a pilot program. A modern power plant, our ambient natural temperatures act as an ideal climate for machines to function year round."[10]

Stronghold plans to continue to expand and could take on 200 MW of power capacity.[8] By 2022, coal waste is expected to power 28,000 Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners with the expanded capacity.[11]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Scrubgrass

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[12] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[13]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Scrubgrass Generating Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 7 $54,000,000
Heart attacks 12 $1,400,000
Asthma attacks 110 $6,000
Hospital admissions 6 $130,000
Chronic bronchitis 4 $1,900,000
Asthma ER visits 5 $2,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed March 2011

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. "Portfolio," olympuspower.com, accessed June 2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Olympus to buy into Scrubgrass power plant in Pennsylvania," Transmission Hub, March 7, 2014
  3. "EIA 923," EIA 923, 2016
  4. "Controlling stake to be be sold in Scrubgrass coal plant in Pennsylvania," Transmission Hub, November 29, 2016
  5. "Amendment No. 1 to FORM S-1, Registration Statement," Beard Energy Transition Acquisition Corp., SEC Filing, June 15, 2021
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Gregory Beard," Stronghold Digital Mining, accessed July 20, 2021
  7. "A 'sustainable' bitcoin firm has raised money to mine crypto by burning waste coal," Quartz, June 24, 2021
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Stronghold raises $105m to mine bitcoin with super-dirty coal waste energy at Scrubgrass, Pennsylvania," Data Center Dynamics, July 13, 2021
  9. "The Facility," Stronghold Digital Mining, accessed July 20, 2021
  10. "Scrubgrass," Cryptocurrency Mining: Infrastructure and Hardware, accessed July 20, 2021
  11. "Stronghold Digital Mining Uses Waste From Old Coal Mines For A 200 MW Mining Farm," World Stock Market, June 26, 2021
  12. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010
  13. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

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