Making a deal
The utility’s fate depended on what kind of a deal could be made for new generation equipment. So representatives of the company held in-depth discussions with four equipment manufacturers. The low bid was submitted by mtu, which was also the only manufacturer able to deliver the equipment in the time frame requested by Halstad Utilities.
After reaching an agreement with the supplier, Halstad Utilities replaced its old engines with two 2,000 kW generator sets that together provide 4 MW of power. Two 3,500-gallon fuel tanks allow the engines to run at maximum load for 26 hours or three-quarters load for 38 hours.
In a nearby switchgear building, operators can monitor and control the engines using state-ofthe- art electronics, which were also supplied by mtu. In addition to providing a great deal of operational flexibility, the new controls can automatically “soft load” Halstad back onto the utility grid after the grid has stabilized for 30 minutes.
In a recent test of the new equipment, when power was cut from Halstad’s outside source, the new standby generators automatically started in less than a minute, went online and successfully carried the load.
As a result of the agreement hammered out with mtu, the generators and control electronics cost Halstad Utilities less than $1 million. With payments for electric generation capacity coming in from the Minnkota Power Cooperative, the estimated payback period for the project is 10 years.
The successful completion of the project means a new lease on life for Halstad Utilities, which got enough standby generation capacity to meet local needs at a price it could afford. So while future floods do their worst and a black world surrounds the tiny Minnesota town on the raging Red River, Halstad will continue to glow.
Information for this article provided by Steve Downer, Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association.