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50 CES leaders tour Ray Nixon Plant

Joel Bernal, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron Power Production supervisor, speaks to Rob Rawson, Operations Superintendent, at the Ray Nixon Power Plant in Fountain, Colorado, Nov. 23, 2016. 50 CES leaders visited the power plant to learn more about Colorado Springs Utilities Gas Turbine Generation operations. (Courtesy photo)

Joel Bernal, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron Power Production supervisor, speaks to Rob Rawson, Operations Superintendent, at the Ray Nixon Power Plant in Fountain, Colorado, Nov. 23, 2016. 50 CES leaders visited the power plant to learn more about Colorado Springs Utilities Gas Turbine Generation operations. (Courtesy photo)

Schriever Air Force Base representatives tour the Ray Nixon Power Plant in Fountain, Colorado, Nov. 23, 2016. The base representatives spoke with professionals and specialists from specific operations during the in-depth tour. (Courtesy photo)

Schriever Air Force Base representatives tour the Ray Nixon Power Plant in Fountain, Colorado, Nov. 23, 2016. The base representatives spoke with professionals and specialists from specific operations during the in-depth tour. (Courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Many at Schriever are familiar with the Central Utilities Plant and understand how important electricity is to continuing the base’s missions, prompting a small team of Schriever Air Force Base experts to visit the Colorado Springs Utilities Ray Nixon Power Plant Nov. 23 in Fountain, Colorado. This team, represented by various shops and Central Utility Plant operators, embarked on a fact-finding mission on gas turbine generation and how the Colorado Springs Utilities experts operate it.

Ensuring Schriever’s emergency power generation is up to the task requires update and replacement of a number of generators in the power plant during the next few years.  Currently, the best opportunity to update is through a $22 million Energy Conservation Investment Program project awaiting approval at the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  This will provide Schriever a number of benefits, one of which is two new co-generation gas turbine generators.  This “co-generation” means we are capturing the heat normally lost during the power generation phase and re-using it in other applications like our heat plant.  The two gas turbine generators will run on natural gas 24-hours a day all year except for down time for monthly maintenance.  This will mean Schriever will generate its own electrical power for its primary mission, reducing electric costs by $1.7 million per year.  This is where the energy conservation piece comes in and our 10-year payback for the project.  The current generators run on diesel and are only run in emergency situations. The gas turbines will be a source of primary power significantly changing the daily operations in the plant.  To get a first-hand education, the team reached out to Colorado Springs Utilities to see their 30 megawatt gas turbine operation. 

The team met four key personnel during the visit. Rob Rawson, operations superintendent, walked them through the entire operation.  The plant operators and engineers talked with Bob Lerch, maintenance superintendent.  Schriever’s Environmental personnel teamed up with Mark Rumbold, on-site environmental specialist. Bill Maher, plant manager, ensured all these professionals and specialists were at the team’s disposal for two hours as they toured the plant and asked a number of questions.  My thanks to him and the entire Ray Nixon Plant staff for providing the information needed to ensure the design and maintenance of the future plant is in lock step with industry standards.

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