Fairmont Energy Station Is SMMPA’s Newest Generation Resource

Fairmont Energy Station Is SMMPA’s Newest Generation Resource

February 03, 2014

On February 12, 2014, SMMPA will dedicate its newest generation facility at 611 N. Main Street, in Fairmont, MN, a SMMPA Member community. The Media and public are invited.

The $30-million Fairmont Energy Station (FES), needed to replace retired generation, provides up to 25 megawatts of high-efficiency, low-emissions energy.  It is SMMPA’s first new, conventional generation since completion of the Sherco 3 generating station in 1987.

The four gas-fired, reciprocating internal-combustion engines have increased diversity in the Agency’s portfolio and added operating flexibility – starting quickly when called upon and increasing reliability in Fairmont. The ultra-high-efficiency engines are equipped with the latest pollution-control equipment and reduce nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide up to 90 percent. The project is also a dispersed generating plant interconnected directly to the City of Fairmont’s load distribution system which further increases reliability in the local community.

Erected along the east side of the existing Fairmont power plant, the station is run by four SMMPA technicians, including two previously employed by Fairmont Public Utilities.

Important in the decision to site the energy station at Fairmont was existing infrastructure – natural gas, substation, switchgear and transmission. FES is strengthening Fairmont reliability as the existing 12 MW of diesel generation is continuing to be maintained. The plant, as an intermediate load facility, is expected to operate approximately 20% of the time and will be crucial for supporting wind generation as it can start quickly when the wind subsides.

On November 2, 2010 Fairmont voters passed a referendum to sell its power plant to SMMPA. FES was built on a portion of the existing power plant property.

Mike Humpal, Fairmont City Administrator, said, “The significance of having sufficient generation in town to cover our needs is important.  Also the sale will allow us to acquire a space for relocation of our warehouse and distribution service that will provide increased efficiency for the department because we will have the ability to keep all of our inventory products in one location. We look forward to working with our partner SMMPA to complete the FES project.”

“We’re grateful to the people of Fairmont as we work together to provide reliable, affordable power to Fairmont and its 17 partner utilities in SMMPA,” added Dave Geschwind, SMMPA’s Executive Director and CEO.