Power outage: Mishap puts unit out of commission

One of three power-generating units at the Craig Station Power Plant remains down after a portion of a cooling tower collapsed Friday.

The unit, which produces more than 30 percent of the electricity generated at the plant, will be down for at least a week and perhaps longer, said Jim Van Someren, a spokesman for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

Power providers that rely on Craig Station for electricity have contingency plans for when a portion of the plant is down, Van Someren said.

In Tri-State's case, the company will buy electricity on the open market to make up for the loss, Van Someren said.

Tri-State operates the plant and, along with other regional electricity providers, owns a portion of the electricity produced at Craig Station.

Crews from a subcontractor were working on the Unit 1 cooling tower Friday when part of the unit collapsed, sending one subcontractor to the hospital. The contractor, an employee of Canadian-based International Cooling Tower, suffered a cut on his ear from the collapse, Van Someren said.

The cooling tower, which was built more than 25 years ago, sustained serious damage in the collapse, Van Someren said.

"It was in pretty bad shape," he said.

Craig Fire/Rescue crews responded to a call at the plant again Monday morning for a reported fire at the cooling tower that collapsed.

Deputy Fire Chief Bill Johnston, who also is an employee at the plant, said he called off the crew before they arrived at the site because there was no fire.

Van Someren said someone at Craig Station thought steam from the damaged tower was smoke and called the fire department.

Before Friday, a cooling tower had never collapsed at Craig Station in the plant's 25 years, Van Someren said.

Tri-State officials on Monday met with a company about repairing the tower, Van Someren said. But Tri-State said it didn't know when repairs to the tower would begin.

Tri-State is considering making some temporary repairs on the cooling tower to get Unit 1 working again, he said.

When all three units are active, Craig Station constantly produces 1,200 megawatts of electricity for customers in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico.

Without Unit 1, the plant produces about 800 megawatts of electricity.


Craig Daily Press reporter Christina M. Currie contributed to this story.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.