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D.C. Signs Off on Capitol Power Plant Cogeneration | Campus Notebook

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
The Capitol Power Plant is not currently equipped to run solely on natural gas, and the AOC needed permission from regulators to expand operations for the new cogeneration plant that enables the switch from coal.

The District Department of the Environment has signed off on the Architect of the Capitol’s plans to switch the Capitol Power Plant to be powered 100 percent by natural gas.

The plant, which supplies heat to the Capitol campus, is not currently equipped to run solely on natural gas, and the AOC needed permission from regulators to expand operations for the new cogeneration plant that enables the switch from coal.

“After more than 100 years in operation, significant investment is needed to replace aging infrastructure and equipment in the Capitol Power Plant. Cogeneration is an environmentally-friendly, cost effective and highly efficient technology,” AOC Stephen T. Ayers said in a statement.

Local activists and environmental groups are concerned, though, that the OK to proceed from regulators did not come with a stipulation that the plant completely disavow coal use. The AOC has stated that during times of high energy demand, it might be necessary to use coal as a last resort to make sure energy needs are met. The plant will also have coal on hand to meet demand until the cogeneration plant is completed.

Daryl Kimball, a local activist affiliated with the Capitol Power Plant Working Group, said, “Area residents like me are not happy and are calling on the City Council to approve legislation to outlaw coal burning in the District.”

The Sierra Club’s D.C. chapter voiced similar sentiments, saying it was disappointed the District government did not limit coal burning with the permit.

The EPA signed off on the plans in January, and the DDOE approval, granted Thursday, was the final hurdle to starting construction.

New Senate Daily Press Gallery Chief Is in Place

Laura Lytle Eckart is the new director of the Senate Daily Press Gallery.

The Standing Committee of Correspondents endorsed her last week. “Laura’s unique blend of experience, vision and toughness make her the ideal choice,” Chairman David Lightman of McClatchy said in a statement.

Eckart has extensive experience in gallery affairs, having worked in both chambers and also for both daily and periodical galleries. From 2003 to 2008, she was deputy director of the House periodical press gallery. From 2008 to 2010, she was senior media coordinator in the Senate Daily gallery, then assistant director of the House periodical gallery from 2010 to 2011. She had been serving as deputy director of Senate Daily Press since March 2012.

She replaces Joe Keenan, the longtime director of the Senate Daily Press Gallery. His last day was April 30.

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