As the Las Vegas valley starts to warm up from an unusually chilly winter, NV Energy is busy fine-tuning its equipment for the summer demand.
That includes the Silverhawk Generating Station, north of the valley, in the Apex Industrial Park.
“These are all internal components of the combustion turbine,” Jason Hammons with NV Energy points out.
A timely tune-up to keep the Silverhawk Generating Station in tip-top shape.
“Just like the parts in your car, you periodically have to do maintenance and do some replacements, and that’s where we’re at today,” he said.
Hammons, the plant director, shows 8 News Now around as crews wrap up a six-week overhaul on the 580 megawatt natural gas powerplant.
“For the majority of those six weeks, we’ve been working night-and-day, around-the-clock,” he said.
The plant is generally used during the summer time when demand for electricity is three times what is in the winter.
The extra juice from Silverhawk can power all of the air conditioners, coolers and fans for about 336,000 southern Nevadans.
“During the summer months, this plant will run pretty much around the clock,” Hammons said.
Silverhawk is what’s called a 2-by-1 combined cycle plant.
Its generators are essentially jet engines that spin a turbine to generate electricity with the hot exhaust being captured to heat water to drive a steam turbine creating more electricity.
“We have two combustion turbines here that run on natural gas, and then we take the waste heat from those combustion turbines to spin a steam turbine generator,” Hammons said.
Major overhauls like this happen every three to four years.
Workers here have been disassembling the massive parts that make up the components of the power plant — making repairs or replacements — and then using heavy equipment to reassemble them with precision down to the thousandth of an inch.
These plants will continue to play a vital supplemental role as NV Energy continues to add more renewable energy.
“Our goal is to double our renewable resource portfolio by 2023 and with an ultimate goal to be 100 percent renewable,” he said.
About a quarter of the electricity NV Energy generates comes from renewable sources like solar plants. Last December, the Public Utilities Commission approved the utility’s plans to build six more solar power plants which together will generate one gigawatt of electricity.