Watch video (Windows Media) Inauguration of Highline Electric Association’s waste recovery facility in Colorado. New system projected to generate 27,600 MWh per year.
The turbines that pump natural gas through pipelines across our country generate a lot of heat that, ordinarily, goes into the air. Highline Electric Association has a better idea: use the excess heat from a pumping station near Crook, Colorado, to make electricity.
Recovered energy, as this technology is known, has no CO2 or NOx emissions, requires no new fuel and reduces the amount of waste heat entering the atmosphere. Heat exchangers capture the heat from the exhaust of the compressor that pumps gas in the pipeline. The captured heat vaporizes a fluid that drives a turbine in a generator to make electricity.
"This project not only is clean renewable energy, but saves Highline’s members money and is a vital part of providing reliable, affordable electricity to our region and nation," said Mark Farnsworth, general manager of Highline Electric. It began commercial operation on June 24, 2009, and will produce 27,600 megawatt-hours of energy annually, enough for a small community of 1,200 homes.
It was also the result of a six-year collaboration between Highline, which is based in the eastern Colorado town of Holyoke, and Ormat Technologies, Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Ormat built and owns the recovered energy generator while Kinder Morgan Pipeline owns the Trailblazer natural gas pipeline. Tri-State, Highline’s power supplier, supported the project through its Member Local Renewable Project program that provides financial assistance for local renewable energy projects to meet renewable portfolio standards in Colorado and New Mexico.
"This was a process that could have failed at any time if not for our partners' willingness to work together," according to Farnsworth.
The consortium’s efforts were recognized by Matt Futch from the Governor’s Energy Office of Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. In his comments at the dedication ceremony, Futch called recovered heat "a very significant and relatively untapped resource" in Colorado and commended Highline and Tri-State for their work with renewable energy projects in Colorado.
Farnsworth concluded, "Sometimes you run into something or are able to do something in your career that just makes sense -- and this makes sense."