Plant may be fixed by March |

Plant may be fixed by March

Officials hope to have the Craig Station Power Plant running at full capacity by early March, a spokesman for the company that operates the plant said Friday.

The plant has been operating at about 70 percent of capacity since a cooling tower collapse in January knocked out one of three power-generating units at the facility. The collapse sent a subcontractor from International Cooling Tower to the hospital with minor injuries.

Jim Van Someren, a spokesman for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the plant’s operator, said crews could have the unit back up in a few weeks. The goal is to have the cooling tower repaired and the unit back up, is the first week of March, Van Someren said. The tower cools water from the boilers so water can be reused.

The plant has three power-generating units. Tri-State and four other regional power providers own units 1 and 2. Tri-State is the sole leaseholder of Unit 3. Last month’s collapse knocked out Unit 1.

Usually, the plant constantly produces 1,200 megawatts for customers in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico.Without Unit 1, the plant’s output is about 800 megawatts.

Tri-State is buying electricity to make up for the 125 mega-watts the company is losing at Craig Station, Van Someren said.

Jeff Lane, a spokesman for Phoenix-based Salt River Pro–ject, which owns part of units 1 and 2, said Salt River also is buying electricity. “It isn’t a real big impact on our operation here in Phoenix,” Lane said.

Lane and Van Someren said if the collapse and subsequent outage had happened in the summer, the companies would have a harder time meeting customer demands. “Our summer months are our peaking months,” Van Someren said.

When the collapse happened, the subcontractors were refurbishing the cooling tower. Tri-State had planned to refurbish the cooling towers for units 1 and 2, but the collapse has pushed those plans back, he said. “Instead of being maintenance work, it’s reconstruction work,” Van Someren said.

The cooling towers for units 1 and 2 went into use in 1980.

Craig Station is Colorado’s largest coal-fired power plant.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or

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