Fire breaks out at CWLP plant

Generator has been recommended for closure

A fire broke out last night at a City Water, Light and Power plant after a battery failure, and a generator remains shut down today.

“There was a small turbine fire that was contained quickly by operations,” wrote Scott Rogers, CWLP superintendent of generation wrote in an email to Doug Brown, chief utility engineer. The email was written shortly after 9 p.m. and forwarded to aldermen and Mayor Jim Langfelder an hour later.

The incident occurred in Unit 33, one of four CWLP generators. A consultant has recommended that the unit be shut down because it is not economical to operate. The city council has made no decision, with some aldermen saying that job losses that would come with generator closure should be considered.

Brown says the unit went down in the early evening on Tuesday and crews were evaluating damage this afternoon. The unit remains offline, he said, and it's too early to say what repairs might cost or when the generator might be restarted. "They suspect there's damage to the (turbine) bearings and some of the seals on the turbine," he said. "If it ends up being too much (money), it could be an insurance claim."

The fire was small and put out almost immediately and with no injuries, Brown said. CWLP believes the incident began with battery failure. Electricity prices have been up recently, he said, and the city was selling power to the grid when the unit went down. No CWLP customers were affected, he said.

The Unit 33 turbine was removed and repaired in 2016, two years after an overhaul, when CWLP noticed a drop in efficiency. It turned out that General Electric had used the wrong material when working on the turbine, Brown said, and so the company covered the cost of repairs.

Contact Bruce Rushton at

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