Sherco power plant repairs may take 16 months, cost $200 million

  • Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 2, 2012 - 9:34 PM
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movebak2mplsOct. 2, 12 9:31 PM

200 mil for one turbine? Can it play catcher?

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chemnpOct. 2, 1210:58 PM

this is similar to the damage that we inflicted upon the iranian centrifuges that were involved in their covert nuclear program. the "stuxnet" virus swept through their facilities and shredded their equipment. probably just a random fluke, but if this starts happening more, we should take a look abroad. also, there is no example of a wind/solar power generator that has catastrophically failed to the tune of 200 million dollars.

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acidradioOct. 3, 12 2:09 AM

Sherco is an amazing power plant. By itself it can power the whole Twin Cities (at least in horsepower). Very well run, clean, efficient, even adds tons of jobs to Becker, MN. Sherco has always been a "base load" - it runs all the time and other types of plants kick in if load is heavy. Now with all this wind power (wind power is awesome by the way!) it has been relegated to a more secondary status. Sherco was not meant to be TURNED ON AND OFF REPEATEDLY! It was meant to be turned on and left on... for months or years at a crack! Machines like this (humongous machines!) get really goofy when repeatedly turned on and of rather than just left running at capacity. Otherwise one of the cleanest and best run coal plants in America - others could and should learn from these guys!

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sauce84Oct. 3, 12 6:24 AM

It would take about 515 GE 1.65 MW wind turbines to replace this unit. And they only produce power when its windy. Oh and about 1 in 5 need their 400,000 dollar gearbox replaced within the first couple years. I like Sherco.

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timandtiaOct. 3, 12 7:43 AM

It uses about 3 - 115 car loads of coal a day. How about this, shut the plant down or convert it to a nuclear plant. All I can think of is the pollution that it makes and just think of the mining of the land that is used. I just hate these coal powered plants even if they were so called "clean coal" powered plants.

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notaxmaxOct. 3, 12 8:04 AM

acidradio - If you would like some facts about Sherco and wind here they are. Sherco has about 2000 Megawatts. Wind in Minnesota has about 2000 nameplate Megawatts which produce between 8 and 32% of nameplate output. Simply put, when we have peak wind they produce about 600 MW, however they average about 12%, or 240 MW. It would take about 8 times the current wind generators to replace Sherco. While Sherco is designated base load it can be throttled up and down to accomodate fluxuations in wind. Minnesotans dodged a bullet this time. If the economy were good and production were high southern MN. electric bills would have doubled, or they would have shared the shortage throughout the state and we would all have paid more. Sothern Mn. is maxed out, which was the reason for the Big Stone expansion that the energy department forced utilities to abandon. Think California a few years ago, when you can't produce and must buy the market can gouge you and double or triple your payments.

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esandeenOct. 3, 12 3:04 PM

notaxmax, I won't argue that wind will replace coal any time soon, or that intermittancy isn't a problem. But I think your numbers are a little off, or dated. The EIA Electric Power Monthly for July has Minnesota YTD wind production at 4,538 GWh; that's an average of about 900MW output if I did the math right.

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notaxmaxOct. 3, 12 3:55 PM

esandeen - Ercot, one of five nationwide grid operators, rates the 10,000 MW Texas output as: record output 62%, average output 32%, useable summer output 8%. I find it highly doubtful that Minnesotas windmills could produce at a higher rate then flat and windy west Texas.

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esandeenOct. 3, 12 4:40 PM

notaxmax I guess my last response got nuked due to having a link to the EIA ;) Anyway, I'm not arguing about capacity factor here. (Your installed capacity might be a little low, too, AWEA says more like 2700MW.) But at your suggested 240MW average, 240*365*24 is 2102GWh/year, and the EIA reports 6,826GWh generated in 2011 (w/ lower capacity than presumably we have in 2012) - that comes out to about 780MW, quite a lot more than 240MW.

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raschumacherOct. 4, 12 7:34 PM

In a few years they will wish that they had invested the money in a new natural gas-fueled combined-cycle power plant instead of patching up a coal-fired plant.

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