Mar 27, 2013 12:24 PM by Maddie Garrett
The debate continues at City Hall in Colorado Springs over the future of the Martin Drake Power Plant downtown. Despite some opposition, Colorado Springs Utilities is moving forward with a new emission control system.
It's called the NeuStream scrubbers, and the project is now 60% complete with a major delivery Tuesday morning.
"This project is going as planned," said Neumann Systems Group CEO Todd Tiahart. "This is a great milestone."
Neumann Systems Group was on hand Tuesday as parts and materials for the new scrubbers were brought in piece by piece to Martin Drake.
Tiahart said Martin Dake is its launch pad for a new technology that removes sulphur dioxide from the coal plant's emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requiring higher standards for sulphur emissions by 2017. It's a requirement that's been in the works since 1999.
"So it's been a very long process to go through the studies around the technology and now to have the project go forward and begin construction it is an exciting time," said CSU Chief Energy Services Officer Bruce McCormick.
CSU said the new scrubber system is like traditional technology, in that it uses chemical sprays to remove pollutants from the coal emissions. But it is different in that it is much smaller in size, more efficient and cost effective compared to other scrubber systems on the market.
"It actually removes the pollutants from the plant emissions at a better rate than EPA requires," said McCormick.
There have been questions from Councilman Tim Leigh and Mayor Steve Bach in the past however, about the new technology being too new and experimental.
"It is first of its kind technology, but we've spent over four years of due diligence to review that technology," replied McCormick.
Tiahart said the NeuStream scrubbers have been tested many times on various scales.
"It has been proven by third parties and we have done it through three demonstration phases, each one getting larger," explained Tiahart.
Leigh and Bach have also questioned investing $120 million in the NeuStream scrubbers when the aging power plant could be de-commissioned in the future.
CSU responded to those concerns, saying de-commissioning Martin Drake could be years down the line, and the EPA's deadline is much closer.
"As we've been directed, we're moving forward to meet the EPA's requirement which is 2017," said McCormick.
The NeuStream scrubbers should be fully installed by 2015.
It is important to note that as the $120 million NeuStream project moves forward, CSU is also working with the Drake Task Force. The task force is putting together research and a recommendation on if and/or when to de-commission the power plant. However, CSU says closing the coal plant would be years in the making.