TransAlta’s Keephills 1 to be offline months longer than expected

Canada’s TransAlta Corp. (TSX: TA) (NYSE: TAC) said May 23 that there has been an extension of the forced outage at its Keephills 1 power plant in Alberta in order to complete a full rewind of the generator.

The 395-MW Keephills 1 tripped off-line on March 5, with the company initially thinking that it would be back up in early May. After extensive testing involving the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), the cause of the fault was found to be a winding failure within the generator. Two phases of repair work were safely completed in an attempt to return the power plant to service.

However, upon completion of the repair work, further condition testing and analysis by TransAlta, the OEM and industry experts has identified greater winding degradation requiring a full rewind of the generator. As a result, the power plant is not anticipated to return-to-service until mid-November 2013, the utility said May 23.

TransAlta said it has given notice under the Power Purchase Arrangement (PPA) to the PPA buyer and the Balancing Pool of a High Impact Low Probability (HILP) force majeure event. In the event of a force majeure, TransAlta is entitled to continue to receive its PPA capacity payment and is protected under the terms of the PPA from having to pay availability penalties. As a result, TransAlta said it does not expect the outage to have a material financial impact on the corporation.

For the coal-fired Sundance Unit 1, TransAlta reported on May 23 that it would have an earlier return-to-service date of July 31, 2013. Sundance Unit 1 (on-line in 1970) and Unit 2 (on-line in 1973) were shut down in December 2010 due to conditions observed in the boilers at both units. In February 2011, TransAlta issued a notice of termination for destruction based on the determination that the units could not be economically restored to service under the terms of a PPA. The matter was heard before an arbitration panel during the second quarter of 2012. In July 2012, the panel concluded that Units 1 and 2 were not economically destroyed and the units are now being restored to service.

TransAlta didn’t offer an update on Sundance 2 in the May 23 statement. In an April earnings report, the company had targeted both units for a return to service in the fourth quarter of this year and said the total spending to fix them was projected at C$190m.

The coal-fired, 792-MW Keephills power plant is located 70 kilometers west of Edmonton, Alberta, and five kilometers south of Wabamun Lake.

The 1,566-MW Sundance power plant is the largest coal-fired generating facility in western Canada, with six units. The plant is located 70 kilometers west of Edmonton, Alberta, on the south shore of Wabamun Lake. Sundance 1 and 2 total 560 MW.

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.