After announcing Central Iowa Power Cooperative’s (CIPCO) $85 million investment in southwest Iowa last week, Dusky Terry, vice president of planning and growth at CIPCO, shared details of that investment with Union County Board of Supervisors at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday.
“Our job is to generate power and transmit it to homes and businesses around rural areas of the state,” said Terry.
In his presentation to the board, Terry talked about CIPCO’s plans to repower the natural gas-fired Summit Lake generating station in Creston, gave a brief history of the plant, discussed the types of generators to be used and the local impact to residents, customers and the local economy.
Terry said CIPCO will be installing six new natural gas-fired reciprocating generators totaling approximately 60 megawatts.
“To give you an idea of what we have now as generating capacity is about 84 megawatts. We’re going to retire the steam plants that are there, that’s about 20 megawatts, and it will take it down to about 64 (megawatts),” said Terry.
The six new engine generators will then bring the plant back up to 124 megawatts, which Terry said will have a greater generating capacity and be more efficient than the current steam engines which are 70 years old.
“In the interest of safety and reliability, it’s time we replace them and get something in there that’s a little more efficient and modern,” said Terry.
As part of the project, CIPCO will be expanding and upgrading the electric substation, which is located on CIPCO’s current property off REA Road. However, no new transmission lines will be installed other than one to connect the generator to the substation.
Terry said it made the most sense to update the current facilities in Union County because the location has an existing natural gas line and transmission system to feed the generation out. It is also already a brownfield site, which means permits will be easier to obtain.
Additionally, the current site is ideal to retain the current workforce, increase employment through temporary construction jobs and will increase tax revenue for the county.
Aside from the $85 million investment to the county, the project will also enhance electric reliability to southwest Iowa and beyond.
The plant, which was originally built in 1948 as a five-megawatt diesel engine plant, was acquired by CIPCO in 1968. It was converted to a coal-fired steam plant in the 1950s. After the coal-fired broilers were retired in the 1970s, steam turbines combined with two 30-megawatt natural gas combustion turbines repowered the plant.
“Pretty small compared to what it is today,” said Terry. “It is a significant source of generation for southwest Iowa.”
The Summit Lake Plant expansion project has been on CIPCO’s resource plan since 2016.
Now that CIPCO is ready to proceed with its plans, the company sent project notices to all adjoining landowners on Oct. 24 to let them know of the plans.
The generators are projected to be built and installed by the end of 2020, and the substation update is expected to be complete by the end of the second quarter of 2020.