FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- The lights went on in homes and businesses today in Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland when switches were flipped even though Platte River Power Authority's largest source of electricity is turned off. The Rawhide Energy Station is not making electricity for six weeks due to a scheduled maintenance that focuses on controls and equipment that keeps reliability high and the environment clean.
"Platte River will spend around $29 million to complete over 700 individual jobs within six weeks and purchase replacement power," said Jason Frisbie, division manager of power production. "We started planning for this major maintenance project at the end of the last one. The last one was in 2002."
"Most customers in our owner communities don't know when these shut-downs happen," said John Bleem, division manager of customer services and environmental programs. "We make sure electricity is purchased or generated from other sources to replace the electricity Rawhide would have generated."
Rawhide is ranked as one of the cleanest and most reliable coal-fired power plants in the U.S. To keep Rawhide operating at this level, large-scale scheduled maintenance (when the plant is shut down and taken apart) is performed about every three years.
A new low-pressure turbine rotor will be installed to maintain reliability. In addition, the second phase of the boiler reheater tube replacement and non-destructive boiler tube life assessment (mapping) are scheduled. The first phase took place during the 2002 maintenance. A number of controls systems (software and hardware) are also receiving attention.
A major part of the Fall 2005 maintenance effort includes installation of new low NOx (nitrogen oxides) burners to reduce NOx by about 35 percent -- to fulfill the second part of a Voluntary Emissions Reduction Agreement (VERA) Platte River signed with the State of Colorado on September 18, 2002. The first part of the agreement, involving voluntary reductions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), was completed in 2003. Rawhide historically has and continues to operate below all state, regional and local permitted levels.
"The new low NOx burners will dramatically reduce our NOx emissions -- just what we volunteered to do back in 2002," said Bleem.
Additional jobs to improve and maintain reliability include repairs to valves, an upgrade to the ash recycling system, installation of a new main control system and coal belt replacement. The last time this coal belt was replaced was in 1995.