Power plant builds safer coal unloading system
WILLMAR -- Construction is underway on a new and safer coal car unloading system at the Willmar Municipal Utilities power plant. The system will consist of a steel structure that will stand like a bridge over the railroad spur on which coal cars ...
WILLMAR - Construction is underway on a new and safer coal car unloading system at the Willmar Municipal Utilities power plant.
The system will consist of a steel structure that will stand like a bridge over the railroad spur on which coal cars are delivered to the power plant, explains Jon Folkedahl, electrical production supervisor.
An unloading device marketed under the name “Carhoe” will sit on a pivot on the bridge over the coal cars. The cars are positioned over two pits, one for each storage silo located on the north side of the power plant.
When the hatch at the bottom of the coal car is opened, the coal falls out and into the pit below ground and is transported with a bucket elevator to the top of the silo and dumped in.
The unloading device will be able to pivot from east to west to unload cars over either the east pit or the west pit. It will have a hydraulically controlled paddle digger that will extend down and help move the coal through the bottom of the car.
The Municipal Utilities Commission and staff made plans and budgeted during the past couple of years to construct the new, $322,900 system because the current system is unsafe.
“The purpose of a new Carhoe is a safety issue,’’ Folkedahl said. “The old system which is still in use is not safe and does not conform to modern rules and standards.’’
The current unloading device requires the operator to climb a ladder, sidestep down an I-beam and into a bucket seat about
16 feet above the ground.
Folkedahl said the foundations for the new structure were installed in May and the Carhoe was delivered in June.
The steel was delivered in August and is being erected. Folkedahl anticipates the new system will be operational by the end of September.
Sarka Sheet Metal of Tiffin, Ohio, is the vendor of the Carhoe unloading device. Carlson Construction of Willmar built the foundations. M & G Services of Lynd is handling steel and installation, and Willmar Electric Service is doing the electrical work.
Folkedahl was asked by the Municipal Utilities Commission to provide an update on the project. He told commissioners Monday that the project is moving ahead quite well.
General Manager Wesley Hompe said the new system is designed to be accommodated within a structure that might be built to cover the entire fuel handling area, which includes the winter reserve coal pile.
According to Hompe, the possibility of a covered fuel handling area would be among significant power plant modifications that would be needed if the utility is required to meet increased air emissions standards.
Hompe estimates the cost at $12 million to
$16 million. But that project is on hold until results of the local power generation study are completed, he said.
In other business, the commission voted to contribute $4,000 to the Heartland Community Action Energy Assistance Program and $4,000 to The Salvation Army HeatShare Program.
The contributions were recommended by Stacy Stien, customer service supervisor.
Stien said the utility does not have a policy to assist low-income customers and she said the utility should support agencies that have mechanisms in place to assist low-income customers.
During the last heating system, Willmar Utilities received more than $10,500 from The Salvation Army and nearly $134,200 from Heartland, Stien said.
Also, the commission voted to ask the City Council to place $8,735.30 in unpaid utility bills as liens on 17 properties.
Stien said owners were notified in writing that a lien would be placed on their property. They were given the opportunity to appear before the commission, but no one responded, said Stien.