New ML&P plant online, generating power for customers
All quiet in the control room of ML&P’s new Plant 2A, but, it’s a much different scene on the other side of the wall.
The deafening sound of generators producing power fills the main room at the company’s newest operation. It went into operation shortly after the start of the year.
Operators said the project cost was $306 million, under budget, and completed on time. Now, they gave KTVA a look at what the new plant will do.
“We have gas turbines that spin, generators and steam that spins generators,” said Plant Supervisor Nat Lewis.
The turbines can produce 125 megawatts of power, as they replace technology built in the 1960s and ’70s. ML&P’s boss says the previous plants simply outlived their usefulness.
“At some point, we realized if we continued to utilize that technology, customers might flip the switch and turn the lights on in their house, because we couldn’t provide the electricity,” said General Manager Mark Johnston.
He said MP&L can now supply that energy, along with electricity for Chugach Electric and Matanuska Energy customers. The power pool does not strain the generators.
“These units, they’re thoroughbreds, they like to get out and run, and they want to run at the top level,” Johnston said, as the equipment performs better at a higher capacity.
Besides generating more power, this new plant will produce a lot fewer emissions than the old one. Roughly 30 percent less carbon dioxide, 80 percent reduction in carbon monoxide, and virtually all nitrogen oxides. Overall, it’s a roughly 30 percent more efficient plant. Customers should expect something more.
“Over time, they will save significantly more had we tried to utilize the existing generation because it was very inefficient,” Johnston said, as ML&P customers have reliable power.
While electric bills may rise in the short term, they are expected to drop over the long run.
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