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Central Iowa Power Cooperative’s (CIPCO) new Summit Lake Generation project is quickly progressing and is on track to be operational early in 2021.

The $85 million project will repower the natural gas-fired Summit Lake Generating Station in Creston. The project includes demolition of the 70-year-old steam plant, installation of efficient natural gas-fired reciprocating engines, construction of a new operations and dispatch center, and substation upgrades. The plant was built in 1948 and has been a reliable source of electricity for electric cooperative members in southwest Iowa ever since.

The new engines arrived in Creston in early May with more than a few spectators watching as huge pieces of equipment traveled right through the center of town.

The process was slow, but steady, with more than 200 wheels on the hydraulic platform trailer supporting roughly 450,000 pounds per engine block moving at walking pace out to the Summit Lake site. Add the weight of the 145-foot-long trailer and the total topped out at 625,254 pounds of load, according to Sean Lipinski, project manager/engineer for Vic’s Crane and Heavy Haul. He says there are 40 independent components to the trailer that can all be set to different heights or rotated and are controlled through an operator and a complex system of hydraulics to ensure the load is stable.

“The transport went extremely well,” Lipinski says. “City and county officials were great to work with and overhead utility providers ensured we had no issues with height restrictions due to overhead lines.”

According to Dan Burns, CIPCO vice president of utility operations, the arrival of the low-voltage switchboards and auxiliary transformers in late June completed the delivery of all major generating equipment to the site.

In June, the Generator Step Up (GSU) transformer arrived, and the substation commissioning, which includes testing and safety evaluation, was expected to be complete by the end of the month. With those in place, contractors were able to pull wire and set electrical equipment, begin finishes on the administration building, and install the gas and sanitary sewer.   

Watch a video of the engines’ arrival.

Sarah Heggen, CCC, is the communications content supervisor for Central Iowa Power Cooperative.

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