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Power Plant Boiler Tube Failures Creating Challenges to Waste Collection and Processing

Post Date:10/31/2019 10:00 AM
Scheduled and unscheduled maintenance issues at the Ames Power Plant have created a temporary interruption in garbage collection and the processing system in Story County. With the Power Plant offline to replace boiler tubes in the two generation units, waste haulers are trucking municipal solid waste to local landfills. Although this situation is temporary, Story County residents are asked to use glass recycling bins, to consider composting, and to decrease the amount of garbage they generate during the coming weeks.
The Ames Power Plant anticipates the maintenance issues in one of the two boilers will be resolved in the coming weeks. The goal is to have the waste-to-energy system operational on Monday, Dec. 9.
Four decades ago, Ames residents opened the doors to the Resource Recovery Plant (RRP), the first-in-the nation municipal waste-to-energy facility. The new system addressed two important concerns: reducing the amount of valuable Iowa farmland being used for landfills and decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels.
Since opening in August 1975, the RRP has recycled metals, processed garbage, added glass recycling, and produced refuse derived fuel (RDF) that is burned in the Power Plant to generate electricity. Municipal solid waste from across Story County is hauled to the RRP tipping floor, and the separation process begins. Shredders grind the garbage before it passes under an electro-magnet to remove ferrous metals, and an eddy current system to remove non-ferrous metals. The burnable garbage (RDF) is sent to the Ames Power Plant where it is co-fired with natural gas to produce electricity.
Existing boiler tubes at the Power Plant are being replaced with specially coated tubes to alleviate on-going maintenance issues and allow the Power Plant to resume electric production using RDF as fuel, said Donald Kom, Ames Electric Services Director.
“Repairs being made to the Ames Power Plant are a long-term investment in the future of local energy production,” Kom added. “At the same time, we are continuing to explore cutting-edge ideas to use RDF as a fuel to provide electricity to our customers.”
Decreasing garbage produced while the Ames Power Plant is undergoing maintenance will reduce the amount of municipal solid waste diverted to local landfills.
“We recommend the Environmental Protection Agency’s waste hierarchy for citizens to keep in mind when considering how to handle their waste. The guideline begins with source reduction and reuse followed by recycling and composting,” said Bill Schmitt, Resource Recovery Superintendent. “Next is energy recovery like we accomplish through our waste-to-energy system, and the last option is disposal at a landfill.”
Story County residents are encouraged to recycle container glass, such as pickle, salsa, jelly, and baby food jars, at the yellow recycling bins for glass located at area grocery stores. Glass dropped in the glass recycling bins is crushed and reused to make new bottles and fiberglass insulation. Fall vegetables used for décor such as pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, or gourds, can be dropped into bins outside the Resource Recovery Plant, 110 Center Ave., for composting.
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