Cayuga Generating Station

The Cayuga Generation Station is a coal-powered power plant that is owned by Duke Energy. Unit 1 and Unit 2 came online in 1970 and 1972 respectively. Unit 4, which came online in 1993, is primarily powered by natural gas but also has the ability to switch over to oil if necessary.

Cayuga has received attention for being an extremely polluting power plant. Carbon dioxide emissions were reported as 5,886,977 tons, sulfur dioxide at 83,174 tons, NOx emissions at 9,161 tons, and mercury emissions at 240 tons. Altogether, the pollution was reported at 26.68 tons per megawatt hour, making Cayuga the eighth worst polluting plant in the United States. Coal ash is dumped into four different areas; Ash Disposal Area Number One, Ash Disposal Pond Number One, the Primary Ash Settling Basin, and the Secondary Ash Settling Basin.

In addition, asbestos was likely used in Cayuga’s plant components because of its resistance to heat. Asbestos has been shown to be linked to a number of health problems, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and pleural plaques.

Cayuga has made efforts to clean up their production and make their output less polluting. Duke Energy has spent $47 million on new precipitators to improve particle emissions. Duke also spent $400 million for sulfur dioxide desulfurization scrubbers. Duke is planning to spend an addition $280 million for additional equipment to improve pollution control by 2014. The plant also has plays a part in preserving local wildlife. A 35 acre wetland and wildlife sanctuary was created on the property of the Cayuga Generation Station, with the assistance of the US Fish and Wildlife department. Gypsum, a biproduct of the of the desulfurization process, is sold to manufacture drywall and for agricultural purposes. The plant produces 365,000 tons of gypsum per year.

Cayuga recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. One hundred current employees and 60 former employees came to celebrate the plant’s milestone. Many of the former workers commented on the changes made in recent years, such as the additional pollution control equipment. They also noted that the number of workers has decreased over the years. Though 145 people used to operate the plant’s processes, today the plant employs 120 people.


Duke Energy