A coordinated effort for reliability

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

It is outage time again at the Grand River Dam Authority’s Coal Fired Complex (CFC).

Twice a year, in the fall and again in the spring, most of the Authority’s employees located at the CFC go into “outage mode” for three to four weeks. That time is devoted to tune up and inspection of one of the two thermal-generation units located at the complex. Just like it’s a good idea to winterize your car for the oncoming changes in weather, GRDA uses this time to prepare its unit for reliable operations through the coming cold weather season.

Check, test, calibrate, inspect … GRDA’s Kevin Couch tests a bank of batteries during a recent scheduled maintenance outage at the Coal Fired Complex. The fall maintenance outage, now underway, is an opportunity for GRDA to give the entire unit an important tune-up, so that it can maintain the same high reliability standards that have defined it since the early 1980s.

Check, test, calibrate, inspect … GRDA’s Kevin Couch tests a bank of batteries during a recent scheduled maintenance outage at the Coal Fired Complex. The fall maintenance outage, now underway, is an opportunity for GRDA to give the entire unit an important tune-up, so that it can maintain the same high reliability standards that have defined it since the early 1980s.

Mechanical components are checked, operating systems are tested, electronics are calibrated and, in general, most everything gets a good inspection during the scheduled downtime. Of course, accomplishing all that requires a coordinated team effort that involves employees across many areas. GRDA mechanics, operators, instrument technicians, lab technicians, welders, heavy equipment operators, administrative and inventory personnel and more all play key roles during this important time of the year. And while the work may take place over the course of several weeks, the planning and preparation is often in the works for many months before the unit is actually taken out of service.

In summary, it is a busy time at the GRDA CFC and it’s busy for one key reason: reliability. In fact, reliability has defined this facility since GRDA began producing electricity there in the early 1980s. One good measuring stick for reliability is “unit availability” which measures the number of hours a generating unit is available to produce power compared to the number of hours in the period. While the electric industry standard is 85 to 90 percent, GRDA typically exceeds that standard at its Chouteau facility with both generating units typically achieving just better than 90 percent. That type of success happens because of good maintenance programs, well-executed maintenance outages, and the efforts of experienced employees.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable electricity touches75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.

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