The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 22, 2007

Outage results in extreme makeover at Consumers' J.H. Campbell plant

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

PORT SHELDON TWP. -The population of this small town on the Lake Michigan shoreline grew by up to 1,400 from last November through March, as the building trades, their contractors and support staff descended on Consumers Energy's J.H. Campbell Generating Complex to complete installation of pollution controls and convert the 820-megawatt boiler to burn low sulfur western coal.

The major tasks on their to-do list during the Campbell Unit 3 emission control equipment installation outage include: tie-in the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment on the plant and convert the unit to allow burning 100% low sulfur western coal. The work is part of a three-year, $450 million plan whose goal is to reduce the plant's nitrogen oxide emissions.

The SCR technology allows a small amount of ammonia to be injected into flue gas leaving the boiler and entering a catalyst. The chemical reaction converts ozone contributing nitrogen oxide to nitrogen - which makes up about three-fourths of the air in nature - and water vapor.

"This has been an extremely large outage," said Rich Kasper, the project manager who handled the contract labor force for Consumers Energy. "Converting the boiler to burn western coal was the largest project we've ever undertaken at this site beyond initial construction of the three power plants."

The project has been led by APCom Power/Alstom Construction. The Unit 3 outage began in the last week of September, and employment for the outage peaked in late January. Work on the boiler and related plant equipment was essentially complete in April with testing and analysis occurring in May.

The project from 2006 through 2007 has involved two million man-hours of work, with some highlights including:

  • Completion of the new SCR superstructure and supporting equipment
  • Replacement of boiler tubes
  • Replacement of induced draft fans
  • Installation of a new static exciter on the generator
  • Installation of a new boiler economizer and re-heat section.
  • A large amount of maintenance on valves and pumps
  • Generator refurbishment
  • Complete inspection of turbines
  • A tremendous amount of associated wiring

Kasper said with the vast number of welds that were performed on the boiler tubes some flaws were anticipated, and welders were performing leak-seeking and repairs while the system was pressurized late last month.

Much planning went into the outage, Kasper said, and when it came time to do the work, Hardhats usually toiled 24 hours in two shifts.

"We had four large trestle cranes, and now we're down to one," he said late last month. "Right now, we're in demobilization and clean-up, and from now through November, we'll be restoring the superstructure and doing punch-list work."

Consumers Energy spokesman Dennis McKee said the modifications to reduce emissions from Unit 3 are unprecedented in scope for any plant in the utility's fleet - and for that matter, the rest of the country. "We expect the rest of the industry will emulate the work we've done here," McKee said.

Overall the project "was a great campaign," Kasper said. "We did it with tremendous attention to safety and it was close to being on time. We've had a lot of success stories but we've learned lessons, too."

The project's safety record was marred by the fall of an iron worker who was severely injured on the project.

And, on Feb. 22, an outdoor crane at the job site collapsed. The 300-foot crane boom fell onto the building housing the complex's Unit 3 turbine. Miraculously, with about 100 Consumers Energy and construction personnel inside the building at the time, no one was seriously injured. The crane was not manned at the time. While MIOSHA hasn't released a final report on its investigation of the incident, there were high winds at the time off of Lake Michigan.

The modifications at the plant are expected to result in an 85 percent decline in nitrogen oxide emissions and a 20 percent drop in sulfur dioxide emission rate.

The 260 megawatt Unit 1 at the Campbell Plant has already been configured to burn Western coal, and the 360 megawatt Unit 2 can burn 40 percent Western coal. The installation of future pollution controls on Units 1 and 2 "will be determined by government policies and what makes economic and environmental sense," McKee said.

Jim Kaffenberger, a business agent with Boilermakers Local 169, said Consumers Energy was "excellent to work with. They went out of their way to give us everything we needed. One thing they did was heat the building, which was a really big plus for us."

Dan Malone, site manager at the Campbell Complex, said the quality of work from the trades "is very high - craftworkers and the Consumers site staff interacted very well together. They were a very easy group to manage, and the work they've done has brought about a very high quality, reliable unit."

BOILERMAKERS from Local 169 work amid a mass of boiler tubes several stories up at Consumers Energy's J.H. Campbell plant. More than 800 boilermakers worked at the plant in late January at the peak outage period. Photos by Dennis McKee/Consumers Energy
A SECTION of duct-work starts its journey from a flatbed to a retrofitted area of the Campbell plant.