Boiler Design Flaws Plague Repowering Project


Lamar Light and Power Plant

The Lamar Utility Board spent their last meeting of 2012 looking ahead to the spring of 2013 when light plant officials hope to see a successful test and tuning of the Repowering Project boilers.  The boilers have been offline for almost two years due to what has been determined to be design flaws.

 ARPA General Manager, Rick Rigel, briefed utility board members on a court mandated Compliance Order on Consent for violations of the light plant’s emission levels from 2011.  Rigel said that the board’s approval of the order would not mean admittance of liability or admitting to factual or legal determinations from the Air Compliance Division of the State Department of Public Health and Environment.  The Repowering Project was found to violate emissions standards on their air permit for exceeding levels of nitrous oxide and CO gases and was subject to a penalty.  The state approved an environmental program developed through Lamar Community College and Otero Junior College and was funded by the Light Plant as payment for the penalty.  Rigel said ARPA is considering several similar ideas for the latest Compliance Order on Consent in the amount of $39,650.  The utility board voted to ratify approval of the Compliance Order. 

Design work on the boiler has been a priority since the units have been offline.  Rigel said the manufacturers, Babcock and Wilcox, are attempting to have the boilers run above the current 60% of capacity level without violating their air permit levels.  The ARPA manager said state health authorities will be informed this spring when testing and tuning of the boiler modifications begin.  The light plant will have 60 days before regulation testing occurs if they managed to meet their goals at the outset.  If not, the plant will again go dark.  He said the plant could incur additional fines if the state determines that boiler equipment that should have been used in the original construction was not installed.  Rigel added that the operation of the equipment was not a factor in any of the boiler problems, but a design flaw that led to the emissions standards being exceeded.

 Light Plant customers will see a fraction of a change in their billing in January to accommodate the rates charged to generate the Charter Appropriation Adjustment (CAA).  The light plant funds the city each year through the appropriation and the 2013 amount is $1,551,910 based on kilowatt hours of a year’s worth of energy sales.  The rate for 2013 is $0.0174.  In other financial news, when compared to 2011, revenues from retail sales are up approximately 8% or $970,775, comparing October 2012 to 2011.  Operating expenses are down 1% for that period, resulting in a new income, YTD of $1,135,651.  YTD commercial sales through November are down about 6.2%, irrigation sales are up 5.1% and residential sales are up about 1.4%.  The next Lamar Utilities Board meeting will be held Tuesday, January 15 at noon.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinesscommunityEconomyEnergyFeaturedHealthLamarProwers CountyUtilities


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