Regular maintenance means continued dependability at Laramie River Station

Laramie River Station near Wheatland, Wyoming.

Think of the vehicle you drive. No one wants to drive an unreliable vehicle that breaks down all the time. The same goes for Basin Electric’s membership. Everyone wants reliability when it comes to the power they receive, and for Basin Electric there’s nothing more important than providing dependable electricity for its members.

Levi Mickelsen, plant manager at Laramie River Station in Wheatland, Wyoming, says, "When anything is unreliable, it adds cost and disruption. When a unit is offline for an unscheduled outage, we have to replace the power not being generated by our units from somebody else. If the load demand is high and the supply is short, this causes huge increases in the real-time price of power.”

Plants like Laramie River Station have a direct impact on long-term power, and that's why scheduled outages and regular maintenance are so important. They ensure our facilities operate at the highest standards by mitigating reliability constraints so members can continue receiving the power they rely on.

Basin Electric coordinates all outages to make sure there’s no disruption in power. “Our outages are scheduled during the spring and fall months when demand for power is typically lower,” Mickelsen says. “Outages are a major effort and require all hands on deck, as well as many contractors who bring technical oversight and additional manpower to help complete the work. During these outages we clean, inspect, repair, and restore the unit to as new of condition as possible, ensuring the unit is available and reliable.”

The possibility exists that multiple outages could occur and the load can't be served; however, to reduce that risk, Basin Electric's marketing team buys power from other generators to replace the power not being generated. Basin Electric makes this investment in power to provide the reliability members expect. The process is seamless and member consumers are not affected by the outage. 

In the spring of 2022, Laramie River Station scheduled an outage to complete routine maintenance and to replace the boiler reheat outlet panels in Unit 2. This marked the second time in 20 years that the panels were replaced. The reheater plays an important part in the function of a boiler; it reheats steam after it has passed through the high-pressure section of the turbine and increases the efficiency of the unit. Reheating the steam also reduces the risk of water droplet impingement and damage to the turbine blades.

“The reheat section of the (Laramie River Station) boilers were designed too big,” Mickelsen says. “The surface area of the reheater absorbs too much heat causing the tubes to overheat. Over time, they fail due to a term called ‘long term overheat.’ The forced outage rate was increasing due to these tube failures, and the availability of the unit was dropping. The tubes had reached the ‘end of useful life’ and needed to be replaced.”

The scheduled outage was expected to take eight weeks, but the lasting effects of COVID-19 and supply chain issues forced them to extend the outage to 11 weeks.

Unit 1 is scheduled for a reheat panel replacement in the fall of 2023. At that point, all units at Laramie River Station will have had the reheat outlet panels replaced, ensuring continued reliability to members.

“Reliable power is critical to the functioning of society,” says Todd Telesz, Basin Electric CEO and general manager. “Basin Electric and its facilities, like Laramie River Station, provide reliability for members by generating dispatchable power to meet demand. Regular maintenance and scheduled outages help prevent the possibility of a shortage, keeping members safe, secure, and confident in their power source.”

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