Work to decrease emissions at Martin Drake Power Plant begins

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s one of the biggest cranes in the state and it’s capable of lifting 660 tons. It’s also the perfect tool for installing emissions control equipment at the Martin Drake Power Plant.

“Part of the scrubbers being installed in what’s effectively a courtyard and in order for any of the really big components to be installed, we have to lift them up and over other features that are already installed at the plant,” said Daniel Higgins, scrubber projects director for Colorado Springs Utilities.

The scrubbers are needed to decrease sulfur dioxide emissions from unit six and seven of the power plant. According to CSU officials, this will allow them to remove up to 90-percent of it.

The construction project is said to cost $170 million.

“If we were not installing scrubbers at this facility, we wouldn’t be able to operate it long-term. And so, it gives us the option to consider what the best resource mix is for us,” Higgins said.

While the future of Drake has been up for discussion, including talks of a possible shutdown of Unit 5 in 2018  (the smallest of the units which is not getting scrubbers now), CSU officials say they are just moving ahead with what was planned.

“At the time, the decisions were made about installing these scrubbers you know, the intention was to continue running the Drake units. And so, at this point, we’re completing the projects that had been initiated in the 2011 timeframe,” Higgins said.

CSU officials say they are well ahead of meeting their compliance date to decrease sulfur emissions by the end of 2017.

Residents can expect to see the crane working at the power plant until Spring.

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