Empire District Electric implodes generating units at Kansas power plant

Empire District Electric implodes generating units at Kansas power plant

Size and age of units at Riverton Power Plant made upgrading to new EPA regulations too expensive.

June 21, 2017
CDR Staff

The Empire District Electric Co., Joplin, Missouri, announced a controlled implosion was held June 17, as a part of the demolition project underway at its Riverton Power Plant, in Riverton, Kansas. Significant preparation has taken place in the months leading up to the implosion to ensure the safety of the workers on site and the surrounding community, according to Empire.

The Saturday morning implosion brought down the exhaust stack and number 7 boiler unit. Additional charges will be deployed to complete demolition of number 8 boiler unit, the utility says.

The demolition project includes Riverton generating Units 7, 8 and 9. Unit 7 [38 megawatts (MW)] and Unit 8 (54MWs) were coal-fired generators installed in 1950 and 1954, respectively. Unit 9 (12 MW) was added in 1964 and operated on gas or fuel oil. Unit 9 used the exhaust heat from Units 7 and 8 for startup.

A portion of the attached controls building will remain as part of the substation and the old plant areas will be paved drives and grass. About 3,500 tons of material will be removed from the site and recycled or repurposed.

The production capacity of the retired units has been replaced by the more fuel-efficient Riverton 12 combined cycle unit, completed in May 2016. Due to the age and size of the units, Empire says it was not cost-effective to make equipment upgrades necessary to comply with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

Blake Mertens, Empire’s vice president of operations – electric says, “The Riverton Power Plant site has undergone many transformations since its origin as a hydro-electric facility in 1905. This latest transformation will remove aging structures and equipment, eliminate the associated maintenance costs, and improve the site appearance along the historic Route 66 corridor.”

The general contractor for the project, KCOM Environmental, is a leading environmental services company with more than 100 years of combined experience in plant decommissioning, interior and structure demolition and power plant dismantling.

The Empire District is a subsidiary of Liberty Utilities Co. and headquarters for the Liberty Utilities Central Region, providing electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater service to nearly 340,000 customers across seven states.

A video of the implosion is available here.