GRE plantConstruction forges ahead on Spiritwood Station, Great River Energy’s power plant with more workers being added to the 552 on site already.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
SPIRITWOOD, N.D. — Construction forges ahead on Spiritwood Station, Great River Energy’s power plant with more workers being added to the 552 on site already.
Given an early taste of winter, GRE and construction officials are pushing harder to get everything enclosed. And although there was a lot of progress through the summer, Dennis Pozarnsky, GRE’s construction site manager, said they’re hoping to add up to another 100 workers to get the work under roof.
“Winter is on everyone’s mind,” he said.
The construction site of the $276 million electric power plant has been hampered by weather, wind and mud almost from the moment construction began two years ago. Thursday was no exception. Knee-deep mud and water saturated open areas of the site making driving or walking treacherous. Snowmelt dripped from steel beams not yet enclosed in the 200-foot-high boiler building. Despite conditions, mechanical and electrical work continued inside and construction outside.
“The contractors have been super. They’ve been adapting to the conditions and making everything work,” Pozarnsky said.
Construction of the coal-fired plant, which will produce steam-generated electricity, is not going to make its original completion date of March 31, 2010, he said. May 30 is now the date for the end of construction and the start of commissioning work on the plant.
“There are 125 systems to commission and test,” Pozarnsky said. “None of this stuff has ever run before so you have to make sure each of the systems is running. There’s a tremendous amount of testing. Everything has to come together.”
The power plant will be online by Oct. 1, he said, the date contracted to start providing waste steam to Cargill Malt. Once online, the plant will be capable of producing 99 megawatts of electricity. It will also produce 555,000 pounds of steam heat per hour. Rather than waste it, the steam will be sold to Cargill and at least one other steam host for use in the manufacturing process. GRE is working with Inbicon/Otoka to build a cellulosic ethanol plant in the Spiritwood Industrial Park as a second steam host.
At this point, the coal pit has been dug and railroad tracks are being laid in the southern part of the site. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway will haul dried lignite coal from Coal Creek Station to Spiritwood Station, pull into the concrete-lined pit and drop the coal. The pit will be covered by a building.
“The coal will go by conveyor belt to the coal silo by the boiler building,” Pozarnsky said. “The coal is always kept enclosed because Cargill is a food processing plant.”
Although the coal silo has yet to be built, portions of the quality control system are nearing completion. A large building, called a baghouse, will vacuum out dry material, particularly fly ash. There are also silos for lime and fly ash.
“All this is to clean the boiler flue gas before it hits the stack,” he said.
The fly ash, which is often sold to add to concrete, will be stored in the silo and trucked back to the Coal Creek pits.
The cooling tower, an oblong structure that condenses steam into water, is 99 percent complete, Pozarnsky said. The water from the cooling process is so clean it’s reused. To make steam, the power plant will start with cleaning treated waste water from Cargill and the Jamestown Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“It will be a balancing act between Cargill water and Jamestown water depending on availability,” he said.
Whatever waste water Spiritwood Station can’t reuse will be piped to the wastewater treatment plant. The pipes to and from the treatment plant will be finished by Stutsman Rural Water in November, Pozarnsky said.
Construction of the plant has achieved three milestones, he said. The 1 million-ton turbine, which turns steam into electricity, is in place as are the generator and the 100-ton boiler drum. All three pieces of equipment are oversized requiring intricate planning and ability to set in place.
The auxiliary building, housing the plant’s water treatment equipment and its backup boilers, is in the wiring phase. The building is packed with equipment and pipes all necessary to the backup system.
“All the mechanical equipment is in place and we’re wiring it to get it back to the control center,” he said.
The control room is the nerve center of the power plant where everything about the business of producing electricity will happen. Right now the dozen computers are being set up and programmed. he said.
“The main control system is the brains of the plant,” Pozarnsky said. “We’re starting to power up and check different functions in the system.”
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at email@example.com