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Coal generator slated for closure receives award from coal industry group

FORT COLLINS — Platte River Power Authority’s primary coal-fired generator, slated for closure in 2029, has been named Plant of the Year by the Coal Users’ Group during its annual meeting this week in Orlando, Florida.

Rawhide Unit 1, the 280 megawatt coal generator, has been the workhorse electrical generator since its commissioning in 1984. Even today with extremely low temperatures, its output and that from other coal sources accounted for the lion’s share of power produced for PRPA’s member cities of Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont and Estes Park.

“From its inception, Rawhide has operated as a world-class facility, and I’m pleased that it’s being named Plant of the Year,” Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of Platte River, said in a press statement. “This prestigious designation for Rawhide Unit 1 is made possible through the commitment and dedication of all Platte River employees, past and present, who ensure the safe and successful operation of the unit.”

The coal users group determines the Plant of the Year by seeking out power plants across the country that are innovative in their operations, implement best practices and make continual improvements in the areas of safety, environmental performance, coal handling, boiler and combustion and risk management, Platte River said in the press statement.

In 2019, the unit achieved a record-breaking 436 days of continuous operation and continues to run without interruption for more than 100 and 200 days at a time. Rawhide Unit 1 was designed to burn a low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and was among the first units in the United States to include a spray dry absorber that removes sulfur dioxide from gases produced by burning coal. This makes Rawhide one of the lowest sulfur dioxide-emitting coal plants in the country.

PRPA’s Resource Diversification Policy passed in 2018 calls for the pursuit of a 100% noncarbon energy mix by 2030. The utility said that Rawhide has ramped down Unit 1 from 280 megawatts of output to 80 megawatts to allow more renewables on the system. Rawhide will continue to be used until its retirement at the end of 2029, seven years from now and 17 years earlier than the expected life expectancy of the generator.

Source: BizWest