Plant to be online in 2012SPIRITWOOD, N.D. — Great River Energy’s coal-fired heat and power plant, Spiritwood Station, is expected to go online commercially Jan. 1, 2012. The plant is close to being completed and construction is planned to resume in April, according to Dennis Pozarnsky, GRE’s construction site and plant manager. A six-man crew of six finished some cleanup work, mostly removing scaffolding and other signs of construction, in mid-December. From April to June, Pozarnsky said about 100 workers will complete the last portion of the work.
SPIRITWOOD, N.D. — Great River Energy’s coal-fired heat and power plant, Spiritwood Station, is expected to go online commercially Jan. 1, 2012.
The plant is close to being completed and construction is planned to resume in April, according to Dennis Pozarnsky, GRE’s construction site and plant manager. A six-man crew of six finished some cleanup work, mostly removing scaffolding and other signs of construction, in mid-December. From April to June, Pozarnsky said about 100 workers will complete the last portion of the work.
Then it will be testing, tuning and commissioning the plant to begin providing 76 megawatts of baseload electricity and up to 23 additional megawatts of peaking electricity.
“The plant will be operational by October and we’ll go commercial Jan. 1,” Pozarnsky said.
GRE is a nonprofit cooperative providing electricity for its 28-member distribution co-ops in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The electricity produced by GRE goes to about 1.7 million people.
The economy in Minnesota with its resultant drop in electricity demand slowed the pace of completion on Spiritwood Station, GRE’s first baseload power plant built since 1981. The station, under construction for three years, was originally due to go online this year. Waiting delays a rate increase on the $350 million heat and power plant.
“This way we provide rate relief for our members,” said Lyndon Anderson, GRE’s North Dakota communications supervisor.
Despite the slow pace, Spiritwood Station is manned and there’s plenty of work to do, Pozarnsky said. The employees are writing procedures and documentation for plant operation. Plus, the 250 motors in various systems must be maintained.
“The motors need lubrication and rotation. You can’t just let the equipment sit,” Pozarnsky said. “There’s a set schedule for daily maintenance. Then there’s all the logistical things that need to happen.”
The water treatment system and lab are operational, with a lab technician on site. The water supply from the Jamestown Wastewater Treatment Plant and Stutsman Rural Water is active. The backup natural gas boilers in the auxiliary building are ready to go. In fact, steam has already been supplied to Cargill Malt.
“The line to Cargill is complete and we supplied steam for testing purposes,” Pozarnsky said. “They’re operating with their normal systems for now, but with the colder weather we’ll see.”
GRE contracted with Cargill to sell steam used in generating electricity to the malting plant. Anderson said Cargill is willing to wait another year for the steam it will use in its production processes. However, Spiritwood Station will use its backup boilers to produce steam if Cargill needs it sooner.
Spiritwood Station will be capable of producing 350,000 pounds of steam hourly. Selling it for manufacturing processes increases the station’s energy efficiency. Otherwise the steam would be wasted. When construction started in December 2007, a corn-based ethanol plant was planned as a second steam host in the energy park. That never materialized. Since then, GRE has been pursuing another steam host and is working on a biorefinery for the park that will produce cellulosic-based ethanol.
Although the new heat and power plant is coal-fired, Anderson and Pozarnsky say the design uses the latest technology to reduce pollution. In fact, they say they believe it will be the cleanest coal-fired plant in the world. Anderson said about 30 percent of the cost of the plant is the air-quality-control system.
“Only clean flue gas goes through to the stack,” Pozarnsky said. “There are no particulates in it. Basically, it’s just heat.”
The air quality control system includes a spray machine that permeates the gas as it comes out of the boiler with ammonia, lime and ash. It makes a mist that combines with the flue gas, eliminating nearly all of the nitrous oxide. The mist also reacts with the sulfur dioxide, dries it out and sends it to the bag house as ash.
“The bag house is just a very big vacuum that sucks out the ash,” Pozarnsky said. “The flue gas becomes a dry product and the material is caught in huge fabric bags.”
From the bag house, the fly ash is sent to a silo and eventually is trucked to GRE’s Underwood, N.D. facility. Fly ash is often used as part of the cement mixture in concrete.
“The hope is when we’re up and running we can sell it,” Anderson said. “We produce about 440,000 tons at Coal Creek (station) and it’s all sold.”
Spiritwood Station will be much smaller, producing about 60,000 tons of fly ash a year.
“GRE is recognized as a leader in the country in finding markets for coal combustion products,” he added.
The new power plant will use dried lignite. The patented technology to dry the coal is called DryFine and Anderson said it’s being marketed internationally.
Essentially, it takes coal with a 38 percent moisture content that burns at 6,200 BTU per pound and dries it to 25 percent moisture so it burns at 7,500 BTU. The DryFine process also removes some of the impurities. In August, trains carrying 50 carloads of coal will start delivering to Spiritwood Station every three or four days.
But for now, the 14 GRE employees will work to learn and refine operations in the plant.
“We’re keeping everything going and doing a lot of paperwork, maintenance procedures and snow removal,” Pozarnsky said.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org