ARPA Update for Lamar Utilities Board

Rick Rigel, former superintendent of Lamar Light and Power, and the new general manager for Arkansas River Power Authority, briefed members of the Utility Board on the current problems the Repowering Project faces and the steps the boiler manufacturer is making to bring the coal fired plant back on line.  Rigel commented that he has spent the past few weeks briefing member communities on the status of the Repowering Project, and will be visiting the Holly and Springfield communities in the future. 

Late last year, the best estimate for the re-start of the Repowering Project was sometime this summer.  For the best part of last year to present day, Babcock and Wilson, manufacturer of the plant’s boiler, has been attempting to correct the problems that have plagued the plant since it went online.  The manufacturer has been studying test data to determine what boiler modifications are needed so it can operate within permit compliance levels.  One main obstacle is producing sufficient power from the plant while achieving low emission levels as mandated by the plant’s air quality permit, issued by the state.  Because of that, the plant was taken offline in November 2011. The plant is also facing other mechanical problems such as maintaining sufficient operating pressure without rupturing pressure tubes.  In a prepared information sheet issued by ARPA, Rigel said the timeline for a return to operation will be by late summer or early fall.  He did caution the board members that the permit requirements may be exceeded when the plant goes through its start-up procedures, and that is to be expected.  Rigel said there was a face to face meeting with the CDPHE to review how far the boundaries were exceeded.  He added that there will probably be some kind of enforcement action from the state, but he was not sure when the plant would be informed this year.  Rigel said Babcock and Wilcox expect some extensive changes will have to be made to the boiler based on their current analysis.  “It does not appear to be just a matter of some tweeks made to the boiler here and there,” he added.  Rigel said ARPA will open their meeting agendas on February 23, March 22 and April 26 for public comment regarding the company’s Integrated Resource Plan which will be submitted to Western Area Power Administration.  Public comment is sought on power purchases, energy conservation and efficiency and new power generating capacity, along with renewable energy resources to ARPA’s member electric customers.  ARPA’s annual meeting will be held in La Junta on April 26. 

Board members approved the purchase of 35, 30 foot wooden power poles and 40, forty foot poles at a cost of $27,012 during the February 14 meeting.  Board members also considered a price quote of $51,122 for two, 25 kilovolt breakers to replace the east and southwest circuit breakers which serves the Holly-Bristol-Hartman area, as well as businesses along North Main Street to the Lamar Truck Plaza and sections of the city’s industrial park.  Light Plant Superintendent Hourieh told the board the acquisition will help improve power quality and reliability. 

Sales of electricity for the start of the New Year are up, compared to the same time last year.  Electric sales are up 3%, residential sales are up 5.9% and commercial/industrial sales have improved over last year by 20%.  General revenue was up over last year by 16.6%.  Line crews from the light plant have been taking down ball field lights in Holly to clear construction areas for the new campus.  Work crews have replaced parts on the plant’s T-4 wind turbine.  Because the brushes used in the turbines prior to some system failures were believed to be faulty, brushes in all four turbines have been replaced.   The Light Plant is negotiating with the vendor to recover the cost of replacing the brushes.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEnergyHollyLamarUtilities


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