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Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown (N.D.) Sun, Published October 19 2009

Spiritwood power plant adding workers as winter nears

SPIRITWOOD, N.D. – Construction forges ahead on Spiritwood Station, Great River Energy’s power plant with more workers being added to the 552 on site already.

Given an early taste of winter, GRE and construction officials are pushing harder to get everything enclosed. And although there was a lot of progress through the summer, Dennis Pozarnsky, GRE’s construction site manager, said they’re hoping to add up to another 100 workers to get the work under roof.

“Winter is on everyone’s mind,” he said.

Weather has hampered construction since it began two years ago on the $276 million electric power plant.

Last week was no exception. Knee-deep mud and water saturated open areas of the site, making driving or walking treacherous. Snowmelt dripped from steel beams not yet enclosed in the 200-foot-high boiler building. Despite conditions, mechanical and electrical work continued inside and construction outside.

“The contractors have been super. They’ve been adapting to the conditions and making everything work,” Pozarnsky said.

Construction of the coal-fired plant, which will produce steam-generated electricity, is not going to make its original completion date of March 31, he said. May 30 is now the date for the end of construction and the start of commissioning work on the plant.

“There are 125 systems to commission and test,” Pozarnsky said. “None of this stuff has ever run before so you have to make sure each of the systems is running. There’s a tremendous amount of testing. Everything has to come together.”

The power plant will be online by Oct. 1, he said, the date contracted to start providing waste steam to Cargill Malt.

Once online, the plant will be capable of producing 99 megawatts of electricity. It will also produce 555,000 pounds of steam heat per hour.

Rather than waste it, the steam will be sold to Cargill and at least one other steam host for use in the manufacturing process. GRE is working with Inbicon/Otoka to build a cellulosic ethanol plant in the Spiritwood Industrial Park as a second steam host.

The Jamestown Sun and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.