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Ford Powerplant Blast Pressures Construction of CMS Project

Ford Powerplant Blast Pressures Construction of CMS Project

Construction of a new 710 MW gas-fired cogeneration plant to replace a 75-year old coal-fired powerhouse supplying Ford Motor Company's massive Rouge complex and Rouge Steel Co. in Dearborn, MI, is going into overdrive following a boiler explosion last Tuesday that killed one person, critically injured a dozen others and destroyed the power plant.

By Friday Detroit Edison was supplying some power to the world's largest auto plant and expected to get up to the full requirement of 200 MW by today. The power is being delivered through two outlets that were not destroyed. The 1,100-acre complex employing 10,000 is Ford's oldest and largest production site supplying parts to 16 of Ford's 20 North American assembly operations. Because of the blast, production was slowed Tuesday at several Ford plants nationwide. Some operations at the Rouge plant resumed last week and the industrial complex could be at full speed as early as Monday, Ford officials said.

A Detroit Edison spokesman said it was not a strain to provide the extra power now because the utility is a summer peaking operation. And by July the first unit of the new cogeneration plant funded 70% by CMS Energy and 30% by DTE Energy Services and built by Duke/Fluor Daniel should be in operation.

The plant originally was scheduled to go on-line with 550 MW capacity in mid-2000, but the CMS/DTE joint venture, Dearborn Industrial Generation L.L.C., turned up a spare turbine in Washington State, allowing them to push the in-service date for some of the power to mid-1999 and up the total capacity to 710 MW. Originally the plant was slated for two gas turbines and a steam turbine. Now there will be three gas turbines. The new power plant will target other customers besides the auto complex. It will take more than 100 MMcf/d of gas to fuel the cogen project.

Even though the July in-service date "was an aggressive target," according to CMS spokesman Kelly Farr, "I think we're going to have to move even faster than that. It's going to be difficult. They're just putting in the pilings for the foundation now." CMS is providing some emergency steam and hopes to be able to increase supplies later this week.

Ellen Beswick

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