Tesoro Turning to Turbine Power

Tesoro Turning to Turbine Power

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Ed Yeates ReportingUtah's largest oil refinery is about to drop Utah Power to generate its own electricity with a new 25 million dollar turbine plant. T Tesoro is making the move to avoid power surges and outages like the one that caused last year's embarrassing fire during the Olympics. But the new plant has another benefit as well.

The last thing Tesoro wanted during the Olympics last year was a fire the day of the closing ceremonies. Unfortunately it happened, not from an act of terrorism, but a power outage. Tesoro decided that kind of dependency on electricity in the West is simply getting too risky, so it decided to make its own.

Matthew Baebler, Engineering Manager, Tesoro Refinery: "This gives us some independence in the fluctuations in the power market and the area has been growing, so it helps to have our own production so we're not subject to brownouts or things like that."

While a natural gas fired turbine churns out electricity on one end, exhaust heat produces steam on the other. It's two for the price of one. While electricity powers the refinery, the steam runs other equipment and heats pipes and petroleum products. In fact, there will no longer be a need for its polluting 60-year-old boiler house.

Quentin Stewart, Solar Turbines Inc: "A gas turbine unit likes to run and it likes to run all the time and it really likes to run at full load."

So power outages, lightning and climate changes no longer matter. The refinery should keep on running through all that, and according to engineers, more efficiently and more environmentally friendly, with less pollution and fewer noxious odors.

The two generating units will be located on a huge pad just east of the refinery. Each unit is 150 feet long, both producing 22 megawatts of electricity. That's enough to power 20-thousand homes. What Tesoro doesn't use, it can sell to an independent power broker or back to Utah Power for use in the grid.

The generating plants should be built and ready to go by February of next year.

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