State

Mercer plant that supplies electricity had $1.5 million in storm damage

Wind from the July 20 storm twisted protective shrouds on top of a tower at the E.W. Brown generating plant in Mercer County that provides electricity to Kentucky Utilities customers in the state.
Wind from the July 20 storm twisted protective shrouds on top of a tower at the E.W. Brown generating plant in Mercer County that provides electricity to Kentucky Utilities customers in the state. Photo courtesy of KU

A Mercer County plant that generates electricity had $1.5 million in damage in the July 20 storm, Kentucky Utilities said Friday. One generating unit had to shut down.

The damage occurred at the E.W. Brown plant near Burgin. Straight-line winds measuring 85 mph ripped through the plant site, according to KU. Winds also knocked down trees and power poles, leaving a large number of customers in Fayette and Woodford counties without power until wires and equipment were fixed over several days.

“There was never any impact to customers,” KU spokesman Daniel Lowry said of the E.W. Brown plant. “Other generating units in the system just picked up production.”

The most notable E.W. Brown damage was to four towers that cool water used in the process of generating electricity. The damage to two towers that serve the Unit 3 generator was so severe that it was forced off line, the company said. That disabled unit, one of three coal-fired units at E.W. Brown, “is critical for summer generation,” the company said.

“The majority of the damage occurred when wind twisted the protective shrouds on top of the tower and caused them to hit the fans. As a result, most of the shrouds, fans and drive shafts all were damaged beyond repair,” the company said.

A nearby solar facility with 10,000 panels was unaffected. In addition to the three coal-fired units, E.W. Brown has seven natural gas generating units and three hydroelectric units, Lowry said.

The day shift at Brown had ended and most employees were on their way home when the storm hit. Those who remained hunkered down to ride out the storm.

“The winds were so strong that it sucked open the heavy metal door to the unit control room, forcing an employee to physically hold it shut,” the release said.

Jeff Fraley, general manager for the Brown plant, said the plan is to have Unit 3 cooling tower operating by Aug. 3 so it can provide much-needed electricity for the rest of the summer.

“Repairs to other damage are ongoing and we hope to be at full operation soon,” Fraley said in the release.

Lowry said total dollar damage to the KU-LG&E system is still being assessed. KU serves 553,000 customers in Kentucky and Virginia.

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