Colorado

May 13, 2014 12:17 AM by Zach Thaxton

First look inside burned Drake Power Plant

Colorado Springs Utilities provided a look for the first time inside the portion of the Martin Drake Power Plant damaged last week by fire.  Utilities CEO Jerry Forte and Interim General Manager of Energy Supply Dan Higgins provided a slideshow presentation of the damage during Monday's City Council informal work session at City Hall.

The photos show significant damage to critical wiring and an administrative office in the southeastern corner of the sprawling plant.  "The thing that we're concerned about the most is just the amount of damage to the wiring and the electrical system inside that part of the plant," Higgins told Councilors.  "There will be miles and miles of wire to replace."

Most of the damage was confined in the area of generation unit 5, the plant's oldest.  Last week, the Colorado Springs Fire Department determined the fire was sparked when lubricating oil came in contact with hot steam pipes.  Despite the relatively small area affected by the 4-alarm fire, the entire plant remains offline with no timetable for returning to service.  "The recovery and restoration of the plant is going to take time, which will likely push us into and through the summer months," Forte told News 5.

While Drake is offline, power is being generated by the Utility's three other plants.  But as peak demand approaches during the hot summer months, more power will have to be bought from other regional sources and at a higher price.  "We know that we'll be needing to make some additional power purchases, both on the spot market and extended contracts," Higgins told Councilors.  "We're making plans right now how to best do that to minimize the cost," Forte said.

CLICK HERE to view Colorado Springs Utilities' photos of the damaged portion of the Drake Power Plant.

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