AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A glimpse inside one of Xcel's power plants shows us what happens when a major piece of equipment is not working.
Xcel provides power for nearly 27,000 customers here in Texas. And 120,000 in New Mexico.
Of this power, almost half of it is generated by coal, but with regulations and other hurdles, it is not always easy.
Most power plant units see about a 35 year life. Xcel Energy's Harrington Generating Station unit one is reaching its 40th year in operation and they expect to have many more.
In fact, unit one is down right now for routine maintenance and technological upgrades.
"The turbines that actually spin the roter and the generator that produces electricity are very complex machines. They have to be inspected," says Xcel Spokesman Wes Reeves. "If there's the tiniest flaw or bit of ware on that, they need to be repaired or replaced and it can be very expensive. We can spend several million dollars on it, up to ten million dollars on something like this."
"We go through a lot of planning before we take this units offline and do the overhaul," says Plant Director Dennis Buchanan. "We start almost a year and a half ahead of time."
These units are essential for coal-fueled power...which is the largest type of electricity used here in the panhandle. Along with the challenge of getting the units in top shape, comes the curve ball of the EPA making certain rules and regulations.
"We've always really worked at this company to stay ahead of those regulations, we've worked very well with the EPA over the years," says Reeves. "In fact, this plant was designed with air emissions in mind because of the type of coal that we use."
But officials remain optimistic.
"We expect many more years of operation because of the way we maintain and operate our facilities," says Buchanan.
Now, this maintenance will in no way impact any Xcel customers, as once again, they have prepared.