The generator at Power Plant 2, located on West Avenue A, is undergoing some maintenance. The 43-year-old generator is one of 4 BPU generators; it came online in 1973 and last received maintenance in 1996. The frame 7B duel fired (diesel and natural gas) combustion turbine is capable of producing 50 MW of power; that’s about the equivalent of 20 large wind power generators combined. The TLC that this generator is receiving will make the unit more durable and reliable for the future.
BPU is considered a peaking power plant. “Peakers,” are power plants that typically start quickly and run only when there is a high demand, known as peak demand for electricity. The City of McPherson has enjoyed an interconnected partnership with Westar Energy since the 1960’s (then Kansas Power & Light) where the McPherson BPU agrees to serve as an on-call peak provider for Westar and in return, receive the opportunity to purchase electricity from Westar’s “base” electric generators. This contract was recently extended to 2039. McPherson’s competitive and reliable rates are credited, in large part, to their relationship with Westar.
In 2014 the McPherson BPU generation fleet became part of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP)’s dispatching territory which has dramatically increased the starts and operational hours for our generators. The SPP’s integrated market has increased usage for all BPU generators; for this particular unit, the usage or number of hours fired has increased by approximately 4,106% from 2013 to 2015. In 2013, before SPP’s Integrated Market, this particular generator ran 7.40 hours generating 268 MW of power, in 2014 this unit was fired 141.60 hours and generated 3,325 MW of power and in 2015 the generator had 311.30 fired hours and generated 7,439 MW of power.
The generator maintenance project at PP2 are being handled the same as most other BPU projects, in that BPU crews are doing most of the craft work themselves, rather than calling in specialized contractors. Power Plant Maintenance Superintendent, Gunner Peterson, said that due to the technical knowledge and expertise required to maintenance BPU generators, it is not uncommon to call on the “experts,” however, BPU has the manpower with the technical expertise to tackle the project themselves. The power plant 2 project is expected to be complete by June 2016.