Wärtsilä Wins Major Cooperative Utility Power Plant Order in the US - Power Technology | Energy News and Market Analysis
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Wärtsilä Wins Major Cooperative Utility Power Plant Order in the US

Wärtsilä, a leading global supplier of decentralised power plant solutions, has won a major power plant order from a US cooperative utility. In September Wärtsilä was awarded the contract to supply the engineering and equipment for the Lea County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) Generation Plant, located in Lovington, New Mexico.

The contract calls for Wärtsilä to supply five Wärtsilä 20V34SG generating sets, together with associated equipment including selective catalytic reduction (SCR) units for reducing greenhouse gas and NOX emissions. The plant is scheduled to be fully operational by June 2012. The more than 40MW of electricity generated by the power plant will be distributed to the LCEC members and the Southwest Power Pool. This output can be increased in the future with minor modifications, since the Wärtsilä engines are already sized to accommodate the increase.

Cooperative utilities provide electricity to its members, with each customer being an owner of the business. This non-profit concept was introduced in the US in the 1930s in order to bring electricity to rural areas, where otherwise it may not have been economically viable for a utility to invest in a power infrastructure.

Since LCEC is a member-owned utility obtaining financing for this project from the US Government’s Rural Utility Service (RUS), it was necessary for Wärtsilä to comply with RUS contract requirements. This is the first Wärtsilä contract to be financed by RUS.

“The suitability of Wärtsilä’s power plant technology to the needs of the American cooperative utilities is now well established. The LCEC project is the fifth such cooperative to select our power generating solution. It is critical for these plants to reach full plant output within five minutes from warm stand-by mode, and Wärtsilä has this capability. The outstanding simple cycle heat rate was another critical factor in the client’s choice of Wärtsilä equipment as was the fact that the Wärtsilä equipment does not consume process water,” commented Dennis Finn, business development manager, Wärtsilä Power Plants in North America.

Wärtsilä’s flexible power plants – a superior alternative

With this new order, Wärtsilä has more than 1,500MW of flexible power plant capacity, either installed or on order in the US.

Wärtsilä’s flexible power plant features include the ability to reach full plant output in five minutes, provide 25% power in two minutes, the highest simple cycle efficiency available in the industry, constant performance over varying ambient conditions, low lifecycle costs, multi-unit power plant solutions, and rapid response to varying grid conditions.

Wärtsilä’s natural gas fueled technology has the capability to operate efficiently at low loads; a capability that can be used for providing ‘spinning reserve’ for the system. This increases the value of the power plant. Additionally, Wärtsilä’s flexible power plants are able to supply all commercially traded ancillary services, including black start capabilities.

Wärtsilä’s flexible power plants also allow customers to meet today’s increasingly stringent air quality requirements. Furthermore, by employing a closed loop cooling system, Wärtsilä’s engines do not consume process water or require significant wastewater treatment or disposal. This helps to address the growing concern over water supply in many areas of the US.

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