Gas-fired facility at Xcel's Cherokee plant to be completed by end of 2015


Construction is well along on a new 569-MW gas-fired combined cycle (CC) project at the Cherokee coal plant site, said Public Service Co. of Colorado in a March 17 project update filed at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

“Currently the Cherokee site development work for the new 2x1 CC power plant is complete and the 2x1 CC plant construction is in progress,” said the report. “Combustion turbines and heat recovery steam generators (‘HRSG's') have been delivered to the jobsite for the Company furnished equipment contracts.”

A steam turbine generator owned by the company was refurbished by General Electric, returned to the Cherokee site and rough set on the foundation in December 2013. Several other key activities were completed during this reporting period, which concluded on Dec. 31, 2013.

The 2x1 CC power plant design-build contract (DBC) awarded to Kiewit is progressing on schedule. Engineering is approximately 85% complete, procurement of engineered equipment is approximately 90% complete and construction is approximately 29% complete. Kiewit completed the major underground pipe installation and the main electrical ductbank construction. Kiewit completed major foundations in this reporting period including the steam turbine generator pedestal and building foundation, both combustion turbine foundations, both HRSG foundations, and the cooling tower foundation.

Equipment installation activities included setting both combustion turbines (CTs), both CT generators, erecting HRSG steel, installing HRSG tube bundles, erecting the condenser, setting the steam turbine and generator, erecting the majority of the cooling tower and erecting the water treatment building.

Nooter/Eriksen completed fabrication and delivery of steel, modules and drums for the HRSG supply contract while GE completed fabrication and delivery of gas turbines and generators for the combustion turbine generators (CTGs) supply contract and the replacement generator for the STG.

In its 2011 application with the commission for this project, this Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) subsidiary provided a cost estimate for the project of $534.5m, which it subsequently revised to $531.5m. In the March 17 report, it used the revised $531.5m estimate as the “Baseline Budget.” As of Dec. 31, 2013, it had spent $313.3m or 58.9 percent of the Baseline Budget of $531.5m.

The schedule shows a completion in December 2015 for the 2x1 CC power plant. “The activities to date have been completed ahead of the original baseline, and the overall project is currently tracking to meet the required date of December 2015,” the update said.

This gas-fired project is part of Xcel's implementation of the Public Utilities Commission-approved Clean Air Clean Jobs Act plan. It will also as part of that plan early retire Cherokee Units 1, 2 and 3 (365 MW), which operate on coal. It also will switch Cherokee Unit 4 from using coal to natural gas (352 MW). Units 1 and 2 have already been retired, with Unit 3 due to be retired at the end of 2015 and Unit 4 to operate only on natural gas after 2017.

U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows that most coal for Cherokee in 2013 was supplied, under a contract to expire at the end of 2017, out of Peabody Energy's Twentymile mining operation in Colorado.

This article was republished with permission from GenerationHub.

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