Control Systems

VICTORIA POWER STATION: 1950s-vintage plant revamped for today’s Ercot market

If country music stars sang about powerplants, the Victoria Power Station, Victoria, Tex, might be a good choice. It’s a story about ordinary people doing heroic things in the face of constant adversity. With new owner Rockland Capital ready to invest in another turnaround, a period of stability may be near. Imagine a gray market (though never operated) gas turbine/generator ... Read More »

Armstrong Energy: Gas-fired peakers become ‘cycling’ units in the heart of baseload coal country

A visit to every power station these days elicits a story that doesn’t square with a traditional understanding of the electricity industry but makes perfect sense under today’s market conditions. The latest is Armstrong Energy, comprising four dual-fuel, simple-cycle GE 7FA.03 gas turbine/generators installed in 2002 and five 3-MW engine/generator sets installed last year. All four GTs have fogging units ... Read More »

Fleet-wide M&D puts ‘Big Data’ into practice

Many large and mid-size utilities and independent generating companies have installed fleet-wide monitoring and diagnostics (M&D) centers (Fig 1). While the practice began more than a decade ago, in many ways, it is now poised for even greater expansion, thanks to breathtaking growth and declining cost of backbone digital chip technology, cloud computing, wireless sensors, mobile and hand-held digital devices, ... Read More »

Microgrid balances variable load, NOx emissions by ‘sculpting’ supply

1. SCE’s Pebbly Beach Generating Station serving Catalina Island consists of diesel generating sets dating back to the 1920s (gray roof in middle of photo), micro-turbines and battery storage unit (facing blue diesel tanks at far right), and LPG storage tanks (four white tanks at left of oil tanks)

Southern California Edison Co’s (SCE) Pebbly Beach Generating Station serving Catalina Island (22 miles off the coastal area south of Los Angeles) was a “microgrid” decades before the term became a fixture of power-industry lexicon. That is, it is an isolated small grid serving an island community (Fig 1), distinguished from the more modern definition of a microgrid which interfaces ... Read More »

Grid dispatch requirements obsolete legacy controls

Control-system retrofits at gas-turbine-based powerplants nationwide are driven by myriad issues. At the top is obsolescence: Many of these plants were installed during the “big wave” from 2000 through 2004 and the lifecycle of digital systems is far shorter than that of the physical equipment. Plus, many West Coast facilities have to adapt to the new dispatch requirements of the ... Read More »

Serving the electricity industry’s next century

The electricity industry has reached a tipping point at which the distributed/transactional/no- or low-carbon electricity grid model begins to outrun the traditional bilateral centralized paradigm. The electricity “grid” is no longer a transmission and distribution system built so that monolithic regulated utilities can produce and distribute power to customers on a bilateral basis. Technological advances and incentives (especially in solar ... Read More »

Well-timed megawatts offer potential value to Morris Cogen

Soon you may be adding a new option for extracting megawatts from your gas turbine/generator or combined cycle—a separate engine-driven compressor module that takes high-temperature turbine exhaust and feeds it back into the GT’s compressor discharge. Called TurboPhase, it’s a deceptively simple technique. If the initial installation at Morris Cogeneration LLC lives up to its promise (Fig 1), it could ... Read More »

The new electricity casino: Preparing your GT assets

Over a long period of time, if you are “in” the stock market on the best days, and avoid the stock market on the worst days, your overall returns are astronomically higher than if you just put you money in and go away for a few decades. This truism of playing the market has many variations but here’s one: If ... Read More »

Gut rehab turns South Jersey cogen plant into electricity market gem

“The bones of the plant were still really good,” Plant Manager Jeff Zelik said, referring to the condition of the Eagle Point Power Generation facility in Westville, NJ, when Rockland Capital purchased it in April 2012. But five years of essentially no maintenance investment or capital improvement had clearly taken its toll. That was then. Today, Eagle Point expects the ... Read More »