The city's geothermal power plant in Millard County will be taken off line for about two weeks for a retrofitting intended to clear up design problems that have plagued the operation since it started.
The down time will have no effect on the city's power supply, of which the natural-stream-driven plant provides only a small portion.Provo Energy Department officials hope the retrofit of the facility's original turbine and the installation of four new generators will upgrade the plant's first phase and increase power production capacity.
Two of three planned phases at the plant near Cove Fort, 20 miles north of Beaver, are complete. The expected drilling of a third steam well this summer will signal the beginning of the third production phase.
However, the first phase has never consistently performed up to standard during its two years of operation. Phase 1 was intended to produce 2.7 megawatts of power production capacity but has consistently produced about 2.4 megawatts. A megawatt is 1 million watts.
Officials hope retrofitting the turbine and replacing the four generators will allow Phase 1 to produce at its designed capacity.
The city energy department operates the Cove Fort plant, which was jointly developed by Provo and the owner of the facility, Mother Earth Industries.
The city and the company earlier this year reached tentative agreement for Provo to buy the plant for an estimated $14 million. Mother Earth Industries will continue to control the geothermal steam resources on 9,000 acres in Millard and Beaver counties.
In February the city initiated the purchase of the project's second phase from Mother Earth and made a $350,000 payment toward the $1.7 million price. Provo is scheduled to complete the second-phase purchase within 12 months. The deal is conditional on Phase 2 passing a three-month acceptance test.
If problems surface and the city does not go through with the deal, the money already paid to Mother Earth Industries for the Phase 2 purchase will be credited as prepayment of Provo's steam-supply fees.
The city plans to purchase the first and third phases of the project over the next several years.
Completion of Phase 2 and the retrofitting of the first phase are expected to bring the plant up to 4.5 megawatts of production capacity. The eventual completion of the third phase is expected to increase the Cove Fort facility's capacity to 10 megawatts.