March 19, 2018 – The Westside Energy Partners (WEP), a project joint venture of Sargent & Lundy and The Boldt Company (Boldt), are pleased to announce construction is complete on the Westside Energy Station. The natural gas-fired generation station is located in Rochester, Minnesota, and owned and operated by Rochester Public Utilities (RPU).
The plant completes the replacement of RPU's 1949-vintage Silver Lake coal-fired plant. It provides double the efficiency and significantly less carbon emissions than the former plant. “This facility will help meet RPU’s capacity obligation with the reliability and reduced emissions of a natural gas-powered plant and keep prices low by being able to hedge against the risk of volatile electricity prices,” said Walter Schlink, director of power resources at RPU.
The plant uses five 34SG natural gas fired reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE) supplied by Finland's Wärtsilä manufacturing. The RICE units are a newer technology that provides quick-start emergency backup power generation. The units can go from sitting idle to providing power to the grid within two and a half minutes. Each unit is 9 MW, totaling 45 MW for the plant.
To accomplish the project on a compressed timeline, RPU selected the WEP team of engineering firm Sargent & Lundy and constructor Boldt to design and build the $62.6 million facility, the largest power development project undertaken by RPU.
The overall engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) project was characterized by a high degree of collaboration between all parties involving complicated scheduling and advanced planning of many parties. Boldt was charged with coordinating all aspects of construction including self-performing the installation of concrete substructures, structural steel, and overseeing installation of mechanical and electrical systems.
“It’s more than construction, it takes a lot of coordination to work that efficiently and that quickly,” said Mark Osten, vice president of business development for Boldt. “We were fortunate that together with the owner and partner engineer, we created a culture that allowed all parties to work collaboratively.”
“Collaboration of all parties was critical to our success and allowed us to provide the most value for Rochester Public Utilities,” said Sargent & Lundy Project Manager Nelson Rosado.
Other unique features of the plant are:
- The plant’s site was below the floodplain, so construction teams drove over 900 gravel-filled pilings deep into the soil to create a stable foundation five feet above grade.
- The structure features a building envelope around the engine hall that reduces sound impact to the adjacent community.
- There is a 60-kilowatt solar array adjacent to the engine building to provide renewable energy to the plant office.
- Construction was completed two months ahead of schedule, and the plant is slated for full operation in March of 2018.