Minnesota power producer revamping Fairmont plant

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was taking public comment through June 13 on an air permit application from the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) covering a revamp of the gas-fueled Fairmont Energy Station in the city of Fairmont.

The Fairmont Energy Station (formerly known as Fairmont Power Plant) is a municipal electric facility with backup/peaking generating units and district steam heating capabilities. SMMPA owns and operates the facility, which currently has two operational stationary internal combustion engines and two operational package boilers. In 2011, four boilers were decommissioned and removed. Currently, the stationary internal combustion engines and the package boilers remain, although the package boilers have been disconnected from their fuel source. SMMPA plans to remove the package boilers in 2012, the agency said in a technical support document.

This permit action responds to an application from SMMPA received in September 2011. In that application, SMMPA proposed to:

  • Change the name of the facility from Fairmont Power Plant to Fairmont Energy Station.
  • Install four new 6,520 kW natural gas-fired generating units that will be used for SMMPA peak-shaving and emergency purposes, as well as for operation related to routine maintenance and readiness checks.
  • Decommission and remove six steam boilers from the facility. This includes the four boilers taken out in 2011.

In May 2011, SMMPA announced that it had closed a buy of property needed to construct a generation facility in Fairmont, a SMMPA member community. The $30m Fairmont Energy Station (FES) will provide up to 25 MW of high-efficiency, low-emissions energy, the agency said.

The new gas-fired facilities will increase diversity in the agency’s portfolio and add operating flexibility – starting quickly when called upon and increasing reliability in Fairmont, the agency said at the time. The project requires no additional transmission because 24.6 MW of inefficient steam generation in Fairmont was idled in 2009. 

In November 2010, Fairmont voters passed a referendum to sell the city’s power plant to SMMPA.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.