Coal, O&M, Plant Optimization

Coal-fired power plant fire caused by human error

An initial investigation says the cause of a fire at a coal-fired power plant in Colorado was accidental and caused by human error.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department said its initial investigation shows the fire was the result of free flowing lubricating oil coming in contact with high temperature steam pipes, which resulted in a flash fire at the 254-MW Martin Drake coal-fired power plant. Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) said the worker involved is on administrative leavepending further notice.

The fire started May 5 around 9:40 a.m. and was declared under control three hours later. There were no major injuries, but the fire did significant damage to Unit 5. As a result, CSU said it could spend an estimated $3 million a month on replacement power from its natural gas-fired plants until the unit is repaired, according to an article from GenerationHub. CSU said it has insurance coverage up to $500 million per occurrence to cover repair costs, but the insurance does not cover replacement power costs. CSU said it expected to have Unit 6 back online in July and Unit 7 operating by the fall, which would cover 80 percent of Drake’s energy production.