Sims plant back online for summer operation

Alex Doty • Jun 1, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power says it will be placing the Sims power plant back online today after a planned three-month spring maintenance shutdown.

Although the plan was to run the coal-fired power plant through March 16, Sims tripped offline unexpectedly Feb. 25 when debris carried by abnormally high river flooding blocked the flow to the unit’s condenser. Boiler tube repairs extended the forced outage to March 1 when plant personnel determined not to return the unit to service for only the two remaining weeks before the regularly planned spring outage.

“While Sims was offline, the BLP purchased power from the Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA), under its long-term Energy Services Agreement,” BLP General Manager Dave Walters said.

According to the BLP, Sims has been offline 38 percent of the time from 2013 to 2017.

“Power is routinely purchased from third parties through the agency when Sims is offline to supplement local generation as may be required to meet the BLP’s load, or as may be economical,” Walters said.

The BLP’s plan for Sims’ summer operations is to run from June 1 through Aug. 31, generating enough energy to meet the BLP system load and sell power to the wholesale market — approximately 85,300 megawatt-hours to meet local load and about 15,000 megawatt-hours of market sales. The plant will use approximately 64 percent of its available capacity during this period.

The Sims unit would again come offline Aug. 31 and remain down for the next three months during the planned fall maintenance period.

This three-months-on, three-months-off operational schedule would continue through June 1, 2020 (24 months), at which time the BLP has proposed that the power plant will be taken offline permanently. This decision is currently under review by Grand Haven City Council.

BLP officials note that the planned maintenance downtime is scheduled during the spring and fall when power costs in the wholesale marketplace are relatively low and customer demand is also low.

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