Hayden Station: Charging up Northwest Colorado | CraigDailyPress.com

Hayden Station: Charging up Northwest Colorado

For nearly 50 years, it's been providing power to Northwest Colorado, and Hayden Station shows no sign of stopping with new developments on the horizon in its objective of providing power for Moffat and Routt counties.

The coal-fired power plant is a crucial component of regional energy production, with two units — Unit 1 was operational in 1965, Unit 2 in 1976 — providing 446 megawatts between them and serving thousands of people in the area.

The process of converting low-sulfur coal — mined and transported from nearby Twentymile — involves the substance being placed into a pulverizer and ground into fine powder. From there, the residue goes into the furnace system of the plant, heating up the water in the boiler thousands of degrees, creating steam while the resultant ash is caught by a baghouse, which prevents release into the air.

The location burns about 5,000 tons of coal daily, keeping a supply of up to 60 days worth on hand. An average of about 3 million gallons of water are used each day, provided by the Yampa River, while the location boasts no water discharge offsite.

"We use a lot of water in our scrubbers too, and we try to recycle as much water as possible wherever we can," said Manny Zeringue, plant director. "All plants use what they call a heat sink, and whether it's nuclear or gas-fired, that heat sink is going to be about the same based on the amount of generation. The steam turbine is using a tremendous amount of water."

The steam from the furnace — surplus of which is put into a condenser and reused as a cooling agent in the boiler — keeps the turbines of the units going, which in turn powers generator rotors to create electricity, sent through transformers and transmission lines for consumer use.

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Hayden Station wholesales power to Yampa Valley Electric Association for Moffat and Routt counties and is responsible for about 7 percent of the power provided in Colorado by primary owner Xcel Energy. PacifiCorp, of Portland, Oregon, and Phoenix's Salt River Project also own stakes in the station.

The latest happening for Hayden is the construction of selective catalytic reduction equipment, which will add to the measures already in place to comply with the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act of 2010 and the Environmental Protection Agency's forthcoming proposed Clean Power Plan.

Combined with the baghouses, dry scrubbing systems and low-NOx burners already in place to control particulates, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the SCRs — the first of which is currently under construction and set to be operational for Unit 1 in 2015 — will further reduce emissions.

"I think it's something that's really good for the coal industry, stepping up, doing everything we can to clean up the air," said Andy Mills, engineering and technical support manager for Hayden Station. "It's a good environmental control."

Such work is an important part of the company's desire to make sure the station is efficient, safe and clean as possible, said Xcel Media Representative Mark Stutz.

Xcel provides energy in multiple states with varying sources, including natural gas, nuclear and, to a lesser extent, oil, wind, solar and refuse-derived fuel.

Coal makes up 53.8 percent of the overall generation provided by the business, and in Colorado that rate is 68 percent.

"We're big on renewables, but coal plays an important role in what we do, and coal generation is going to be part of this company for many years to come," Stutz said. "We're obviously going to be transitioning to other forms of energy as a society, but that's going to take decades, and coal's going to be a key component."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

By the numbers

Hayden Station

• $2.7 million paid to 87 employees in 2013

• Generates 446 megwatts, or almost 4.5 million 100-watt light bulbs in one year

• Occupies 1,315 acres of land

• Hayden Station began construction in 1962, originally owned by Colorado-Ute Electric Association. Unit 1 was operational by 1965. Unit 2 began in 1976.

• Uses 3 million gallons of water per day

• Burns about 5,000 tons of coal daily

Sources include Xcel Energy and Yampa Valley Data Partners