FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: April 21, 2021
Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) announced that its Summit Lake Expansion Project reached commercial operation on Thursday, April 15. This means the three new natural gas reciprocating engines have met all environmental and performance goals after rigorous testing, are registered with Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and are an official generating asset for CIPCO.
As part of CIPCO’s $85 million repowering project at the Summit Lake generating plant, demolition of the 68-year-old steam plant took place along with the installation of three efficient natural gas-fired reciprocating engines, and substation upgrades. The repowered facility will produce 110 MW of power to assist during peak energy use.
The new generators are reciprocating piston engines fueled by natural gas. Each turbocharged engine-generator weighs approximately 400 tons and has eighteen cylinders. Each generates 18.8MW, which is equivalent to about 25,000 horsepower. Because the engines run at a very low and constant speed, the engines can start and stop quickly and can be tuned for efficiency.
Despite beginning construction during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summit Lake Expansion Project, CIPCO’s largest generation construction project to date, progressed with few delays. “We are thrilled to reach commercial operation,” said Sam Stineman, Director of Generation Assets who managed the project for CIPCO. “We have talked about and planned this project for years. We are proud of our great team at CIPCO who, along with contractors and service providers, worked tirelessly despite several challenges during 2020.”
The Summit Lake Expansion Project provides CIPCO member-owners with a low-cost natural gas peaking option that will run when demand is high, particularly during summer months. It adds flexibility into the system, thereby maintaining the stable prices CIPCO has provided to members for the last decade, while allowing the organization to strategically purchase energy and capacity from new, cost-effective wind and solar resources.
“With a modest amount of the right types of quick-start natural gas peaking, we are able to maintain grid resiliency and manage market risk,” said Stineman. “The innovative aspect of this project isn’t so much the new engine technology itself, but rather the part it plays in a bigger strategy.”
CIPCO remains focused on a balanced and diverse generation portfolio. This approach encompasses diversity in project geography, and of course, fuel sources.
“We are pleased that the Summit Lake Expansion Project has reached commercial operation,” said CIPCO Executive Vice President and CEO Bill Cherrier. “This repowering project adds greater diversity to CIPCO’s portfolio and complements our planned buildout of resources with dispatchable, quick-start natural gas capacity to run when the wind and sun aren’t producing electricity. Keeping the lights on for our members 24/7 is our top priority.”
“This major milestone marks the transition from construction to operation. Since this is a peaking facility, the plant will generally operate when loads are high, or when wind speeds are low enough to prevent regional wind farms from running, and of course, during emergency situations,” said Dan Burns, CIPCO Vice President of Utility Operations.
“We were told by other utilities that installed similar units that it would take the combined efforts of nearly everyone in the company to bring a project like this online, and that was certainly true in CIPCO’s case, “Burns added “I commend all CIPCO staff who participated in the successful completion of this project.”
About Central Iowa Power Cooperative: CIPCO is a generation and transmission electric cooperative owned by member cooperatives and the communities they serve. With a balanced, 24/7 energy portfolio, CIPCO is committed to providing cost-effective, safe, and reliable energy. CIPCO and its 13 members serve over 300,000 Iowans in 58 Iowa counties. CIPCO’s offices are located in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Creston, and Wilton, Iowa. For more information visit www.cipco.net.