by Pam Zubeck
Today, Colorado Springs Utilities welcomed additional components of the NeuStream pollution-control system to the Martin Drake Power Plant site. NeuStream, invented by home-grown Neumann Systems Group, promises to reduce 97 percent of sulfur dioxide from the plant's emissions to comply with EPA regulations set to kick in within four years.
Here's the announcement:
The delivery of tanks, parts and materials at the Martin Drake Power Plant Tuesday morning signifies 60 percent completion of the entire NeuStreamTM emissions control project. The materials will arrive from Advance Tank and Construction, Wellington, CO.
The NeuStreamTM system will ensure reliable low cost power for Colorado Springs Utilities customers while complying with EPA sulfur dioxide regulations.
Colorado Springs Utilities contracted with Neumann Systems Group in 2011 to provide a flue gas desulfurization system to meet the EPA's regulatory requirement of capturing sulfur dioxide emissions.
The NeuStream-STM was selected based on lower capital costs, a 50 percent smaller footprint and the ability to exceed EPA sulfur dioxide requirements. Construction, testing and startup on Drake units 6 and 7 are expected to be completed in 2015.
Utilities' George Luke said construction of the system will create roughly 200 jobs. Many components are manufactured in places across the country; steel tanks came from Fort Collins, he said.
Energy Officer Bruce McCormick met with reporters at the site and said the system, at $120 million, comes a lower cost and is more efficient than competitive technology.
The system has been at the center of controversy, with City Councilman Tim Leigh calling it unproven and experimental and a "sweetheart deal" for Neumann. Leigh is under investigation for ethics allegations stemming from his dust-up with the businessman.
McCormick said the project has been in the hopper for at least four years, and construction of the system will begin soon. The project should be completed by 2015.
"It's been a long process," McCormick said. McCormick expects visits from other energy providers to observe the attachment of the system at Drake. The city's contract with Neumann entitles the city to a percentage commission on gross sales for a decade.
In a related matter, apparently, Mayor Steve Bach and his staff have been talking around town, making statements that aren't necessarily accurate. Bach makes regular radio appearances in which he often discusses Springs Utilities business, although he's repeatedly said he has nothing to do with Utilities and has no vote on the board, which is comprised of City Council.
Anyhow, here's a long-winded response sent to March 9 to Bach and his staff by Utilities CEO Jerry Forte about pollution-control technology being installed on Drake Power Plant, as well as cuts made to city streets for utility purposes.
One item that wasn't embedded in the above message is a chart showing how the Neumann Systems Group technology costs less than competitors' products.