A Leaning Tower At GRU, And The Return of Power from GREC


The leaning structure below is a big part of how Gainesville Regional Utilities safely burns coal to produce power.

(Photos courtesy of GRU)

“When you discharge from the unit, we have an emission control system that cleans up the discharge of the flue gas that comes out of the boiler, and that’s part of it… it’s the dry scrubber,” acting energy supply officer Dino De Leo said.

On Thursday morning, GRU reported the scrubber starting to pull away from the rest of the plant.

Deerhaven 2, where the structure stands, can’t be used for now, and so GRU turned to Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, the biomass plant with which the city has a 30-year contract. GRU has not used GREC consistently since August 2015.

“I guess there was a concern that there might not be enough power available to supply all the needs for the city of Gainesville,” GREC chief executive Al Morales said. “So we ramped up and are up and running now.”

A maintenance project on the older Deerhaven 1 coal unit, already had GRU ready to tap the biomass plant soon.

With Deerhaven 2 suddenly out, Deerhaven 1’s maintenance outage will be postponed.

GRU said the biomass plant costs about $30,000 a day to run — more than production at coal units cost.

“We have seven generating units in our fleet,” De Leo said, adding the biomass and other units are “being dispatched with all the rest of our generated units in the most economical way.”

GREC’s Morales said its plant adds value to GRU because with biomass as a backup, GRU doesn’t have to invest in replacing its aging coal plants.

In a separate incident, GREC also reported the following on Monday afternoon:

On Thursday, September 29, 2016  Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, 11201 NW 13th St, Gainesville, FL 32653, accidentally discharged approximately 9,000 gallons of industrial process water onto the ground.  The water was reverse osmosis reject water, which is the water stream from a reverse osmosis filter that contains a higher concentration of minerals than is naturally occurring in the water being treated.  The water came from a sump  in which the pumps had failed to operate due to a failure of a control module.  That water would normally have been pumped from that sump to a cooling tower basin.  The event was discovered at 10:00 pm on Sept. 29, 2016.  The medium affected by the event was the ground; most of the water flowed to a storm water retention pond.  No areas beyond the GREC installation were affected.  There is no risk to the public health, safety, or welfare.  The Florida DEP was notified, as well as the Alachua County EPD.

About Austin Landis

Austin is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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