FL - Faulty Generator Up and Running

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A faulty starting motor has been the most recent problem with Unit 5.

Wednesday, December 20, 2000

By RICK ROUSOS The Ledger LAKELAND -- Lakeland Electric on Tuesday night fired up its $55 million, 270-megawatt generator -- which is crucial in meeting demand during bitter cold -- and it worked.

City officials said late Tuesday they were confident the generator known as Unit 5 would work through the cold spell, which is taxing the utility's generating capacity as power use soars.

"We have to have it for the weather," said Ron Tomlin, the utility's assistant managing director.

The Siemens-Westinghouse generator at the McIntosh power plant near Lake Parker has been plagued with problems and has worked only 85 days since it was supposed to go online in April 1999. A faulty starting motor has been the most recent problem with Unit 5.

Unit 5, which burns natural gas, was started briefly on Monday and tested Monday and Tuesday. In final checks, "there were a couple of gas leaks (which have been fixed), nothing major," Tomlin said.

The generator was started about 9:45 p.m. and was expected to run all night and into the morning, when a peak demand for electricity will accompany freezing or near-freezing temperatures.

"I think it's coming along," Tomlin said. He said Unit 5 would run all night at 70 percent capacity and full blast this morning when power demand is at its peak.

The necessity of the generator in cold weather is magnified because two of Lakeland's 10 generators are not working.

Unit 2 at McIntosh, with a 114-megawatt capacity, isn't expected back on line until after Christmas because of a recent fire in its control panel.

Unit 8 at the Larsen plant, with a 134-megawatt capacity, is down for internal repairs.

Unit 3 at McIntosh, which burns coal, is the biggest generator operated by the city utility, with a 364-megawatt capacity. It is jointly owned with Orlando. Lakeland owns 60 percent, Orlando owns 40 percent.


-- Doris (nocents@bellsouth.net), December 21, 2000

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