Nucla Station outages yield long list of completed projects, plant upgrades

While Tri-State’s 100-megawatt Nucla Station in southwest Colorado was off line in 2013 for approximately two months during both of the lower demand “shoulder” periods of spring and fall, plant employees ramped up to tackle a long list of maintenance and capital projects, some of which would normally be completed by outside contract firms.

During the outages, extensive repairs and upgrades were completed at the plant’s coal receiving and reclaim areas.

During the outages, extensive repairs and upgrades were completed at the plant’s coal receiving and reclaim areas.

“Having the available personnel and extra time during the outages allowed us to get a lot more done than we usually have time to complete during our typical two-week fall outage,” explained Steve Sullivan, plant manager at Nucla Station. “In view of us taking on all those projects that we don’t normally do in-house, I am particularly proud of our employees’ excellent safety record this year,” he noted.

The station conducted its spring outage from March 15 through June 7. The plant was brought off line as a coal conservation measure while permitting was completed for a new mining site at nearby New Horizon Mine.

The fall outage, which is normally two weeks in length, was extended from Sept. 13 until Nov. 14 to allow time for coal deliveries to begin from the new mining site.

During both spring and fall outages, plant personnel performed extensive maintenance and repair work on duct systems, air heater refurbishment and instrument calibration.

A major project nearing completion is the conveyor belt guarding project that is expected to be well under budget when it is finished before year-end.

A major project nearing completion is the conveyor belt guarding project that is expected to be well under budget when it is finished before year-end.

A major undertaking during the fall outage was component replacement and extensive repairs to the station’s coal receiving and reclaim areas, including belt replacements, chute modifications and the rebuilding of coal feeders and conveyers.

Another significant capital project during the fall that involved many Nucla Station employees was the replacement of the obsolete input/output interface cards that directly link the plant’s Ovation digital control system to ancillary field devices throughout the facility.

Sullivan also noted that a year-long conveyer belt machine guarding project was originally planned for completion by an outside contract firm.

“But, we took a look at their proposed design and determined that we could build it better in house,” Sullivan said. “This project, which provides safety barriers around belts for OSHA compliance, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, well below its projected budget figure,” he added.

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