GI power plant offline for repairs before winter hits

GI power plant repairs.jpg

As Nebraskans crank up the heat, a local power plant is offline as contractors make costly repairs.

“PGS is in pieces right now,” Grand Island Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger said.

PGS, the Platte Generating Station, often runs 24/7. Sudden breakdowns are not an option, so they schedule repairs.

Luchsinger said, “Every five years we take it down to nothing, if you want to call it that, inspect every part and make sure everything will last another five years.”

The city has a nearly million-dollar repair contract, in this case with a Missouri firm. But they went into it with a certain level of uncertainty.

“We don't know exactly what's going to need to be done, we'll come up with standard prices so when the work comes up we've got standard prices for it,” Luchsinger said.

Luchsinger said they uncovered major work that needs to be done with a turbine rotor.

He said, “We're looking probably $1 million as far as extra repairs that will be needed that weren't in base contracts the total outage for the plant's going to be in the $4-5 million range.”

During the work, the plant is offline. If repairs were delayed, it could force the city to buy electricity from the market, or fire up backup generators.

“We can spend over $40-50,000 per day on purchase power and fuel cost if we don't have this running so it's important to get it done,” Luchsinger said.

The Utilities Director has benefitted from cheap, reliable power, but the flipside is keeping it going.

He said, “It's like car or home ownership. You need to keep up on maintenance. It's a benefit to you.”

Grand Island is getting power from a couple of other plants the city has a stake in.

This will not affect rates or taxpayers; The utilities department is run like a business, and this comes from money in the bank from the cash reserve that has been built up for purposes like this.

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