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In case of emergency

Friday, July 27, 2012

Spencer Municipal Utilities' emergency generator is tested Thursday morning. The device has not been used for emergency electric generation in at least 10 years, but generates $150,000 in annual revenue through lease agreements with other energy providers.
(Photo by Gabe Licht)
If an energy shortage occurs in northern Iowa, Spencer Municipal Utilities is ready.

In 1970, SMU purchased two Pratt & Whitney jet engines that power a GE turbine.

Though the equipment is 42 years old, it has not been used very often. Its most recent use, prior to its test Thursday morning, was for maintenance purposes last week.

"It's more of an emergency, peaking type unit," SMU General Manager Steve Pick said. "It's expensive, so normally it won't be run for that purpose."

The cost is estimated at 13 cents per kilowatt hour, which is more than double the retail rate of 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour, but lower than the cost to replace the energy from elsewhere.

While SMU has not used the equipment for emergency generation in at least 10 years, it generates $150,000 through a long-term lease with Corn Belt Energy, as well as an agreement with the North Iowa Municipal Electric Cooperative Association.

"We do sell some excess capacity just having it here ready to generate," Pick said. "It entitles other companies to lease it and run it if they need it."

How much energy can it produce?

"It does not have enough capacity to serve the entire town of Spencer," Pick said. "It can generate 20 megawatts and Spencer's load ranges from 32 to 34 megawatts."

When the equipment was first purchased, 20 megawatts would have been enough to power the entire community.

In recent years, it has been run mostly for maintenance, training and accreditation purposes. Thursday morning, the machine was accredited by NIMECA.

The equipment was overhauled in the mid 1990s, had fuel tanks replaced five or six years ago and was upgraded with electronic controls a year later.

With those repairs and upgrades complete, SMU is confident in its emergency equipment.

"It will be here for a long time," Pick said.

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I think that the two P & W gas turbines drive the GE generator. The jets are turbines, not the unit that actually generates the power.

Hope that helps.

-- Posted by YOUSA on Fri, Jul 27, 2012, at 9:44 AM


Actually the P&W engines are called "Gas Generators" and are given the designation GG3. The GG3 was developed from Pratt's JT3(J57 military designation) aircraft engine which was first run in 1951.

The "Turbine" is actually the set of vanes that are directly coupled to the shaft of the generator and are driven by the thrust of the gas generator. There are actually two turbines coupled to the generator and each turbine receives thrust from one engine.

-- Posted by MikeM on Sun, Jul 29, 2012, at 8:57 PM

LOL Go get em Mike!

-- Posted by deweyh on Thu, Aug 2, 2012, at 6:46 PM

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