Louisville Gas and Electric will hold a press conference Monday morning to announce “a new beneficial reuse manufacturing facility.” The star-studded event will feature Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and state house majority leader Rocky Adkins.
So, why the fuss? It seems that Louisville company Charah plans to use the byproducts scrubbed from the emissions at the Mill Creek Power Station in a sulfate-based fertilizer the company manufactures.
LG&E wouldn’t discuss details about the announcement before the big reveal, but the press release says Charah will build a SUL4R-PLUS manufacturing facility at the Mill Creek Power Plant. According to the company’s website, SUL4R-PLUS is a sulfate fertilizer.
Burning coal produces sulfur dioxide, along with other emissions and byproducts. As I reported in November, the company is in the process of installing advanced pollution controls (including sulfur dioxide scrubbers) to comply with upcoming federal air regulations, like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS), new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (which was voided by an appeals court in August but could be reinstated eventually).
The sulfur dioxide captured in scrubbers has typically been used to create calcium sulfate, which is synthetic gypsum. Though the company hasn’t released the full details of the partnership yet, the fact that SUL4R-PLUS is 90-95 percent synthetic gypsum would suggest that the arrangement would involve LG&E selling the sulfur dioxide to Charah for use in its fertilizer.
At the November event, state politicians praised the more than 700 construction jobs the project was expected to create. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on Monday, but on the surface this seems to be another example of more stringent pollution controls creating more jobs in Louisville.