changes in technology,
EPA rules and a tornado
Cold War-era power plant continues
to provide jobs and tax revenue for the area
(July 2006) For 50 years, the Indiana-Kentucky
Electric Corp.s Clifty Creek power station has operated at a bend
in the Ohio River just west of downtown Madison, Ind.
Its 985-foot twin stacks, which tower over the historic
downtown and Clifty Falls State Park, over the years have become perhaps
the most familiar artificial landmarks in the valley. The plant, owned
and operated by a consortium of about 15 power companies, employs 365
people, ranking as the sixth-largest employer in Jefferson County.
Clifty Creek provides more than $3 million annually in taxes to the
county and an annual $23 million payroll for nearly two generations
of workers, officials say. Not only has the plant survived years of
technological advances and time itself, but it has also weathered the
1974 tornado that struck Madison and, most recently, a series of legal
attacks by environmentalists over its aging pollution controls.
Today, Clifty Creeks turbines continue to hum and its generators
continue to churn out 1,302 megawatts of electricity, which is transmitted
to its sponsoring companies for their sales to residential, commercial
and industrial customers as well as other power companies.
Plant officials marked the 50-year anniversary in mid-May with an open
house, allowing visitors to tour the facility and see areas usually
off limits to the public.
Meanwhile, in an effort to survive these latest legal challenges and
meet future environmental regulations, the company in May announced
an ambitious $460 million plan to enhance its pollution controls to
successfully meet the ever-tightening federal air quality standards.
Capacity: 1,302 megawatts from six generating units
Stacks: 2 at 985 feet each. Diameter 77 feet at base,
34 feet at top. Built in the late 1970s.
Average annual coal use: 4.5 million tons
Coal yard storage capacity: More than 1 million tons
Average daily coal use: 14,000 tons
Combustion air use: 140,000 pounds per minute
Boiler capacity: 52,000 gallons of water through 150
miles of boiler tubing per unit.
Main steam pressure: 2,000 pounds
Main steam temperature: 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit
Cooling water use: Cycles 1.4 billion gallons of river
water through the plant daily.
Annual payroll: $23 million
Annual taxes paid to local government: (real estate,
personal property): More than $3 million
The project calls for installing scrubbers for each of
its six 217-megawatt generating units to remove 98 percent or more of
the sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain, from the flue
gas emissions. Once these new scrubbers are fully operational, estimated
to be 2010, the plant should be able to stay within the government-mandated
pollution levels until 2018 and beyond, said I.K.E.C. assistant plant
manager Cliff Carnes, 44. He is a Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
graduate from Indianapolis who was hired in 1985 as a chemical engineer
and later promoted to maintenance superintendent before taking his current
Carnes said more controls may be necessary in future years, but by that
time, plant officials hope newer technology still being developed will
be available then to help offset the cost to install and operate efficiently
The addition of the flue gas desulfurization systems represents
a major commitment to environmental quality in southeastern Indiana,
said Ray Wilson, 59, Clifty Creeks plant manager for the past
14 years. The project will also produce an economic boost to Jefferson
County and the city of Madison in the form of increased county option
In 2002, Clifty Creek installed new Selective Catalytic Reactors, commonly
called SCRs, to remove nitrogen oxide from its flue gas emissions. The
new pollution controls to be added starting in 2007 will render the
current twin stacks obsolete, Carnes said. A new single stack will go
up in 2008 to accommodate the new scrubbers. The twin stacks that now
stand will remain until future technology is made available to tear
them down affordably, Carnes said.
Using the technology that is out there today, our consultants
have estimated it would cost $7 million per stack to take down now,
he said. Thats just too costly to pursue right now.
Clifty Creek underwent a similar transition back in the late 1970s when
the original three stacks, which stood at only 600-plus feet, were torn
down to make way for the current twin towers.
The plant also survived the infamous April 3, 1974, tornado, which roared
up the river and tore across the plants switchyard, leaving heaps
of wrangled metal in its wake. The tornado then slammed into the hillside
on its way to the Madison hilltop, where it destroyed Clifty Inns
lodge and several buildings at Hanover College. Power plant workers,
meanwhile, scrambled for shelter in the plants bomb shelter, located
deep beneath the stacks. The wreckage forced the plant to shut down
for nearly six months while repairs were made.
County (Ind.) Employers
1. 1,057 Kings Daughters Hospital & Health Services
2. 753 Arvin Sango Inc.
3. 672 Grote Industries
4. 465 Madison Precision Products
5. 425 Rotary Lift
6. 365 I.K.E.C. Clifty Creek
7. 223 Rockwell/Reliance Electric
8. 172 Armor Metal
9. 172 Century Tube
10. 96 Siemens U.S. Filter
(As of April 15, 2006) Source: MIDCOR
Its really a tribute to the company that this
plant can still function as well as it does after 50 years and produce
electricity relatively inexpensively. I think its a tribute to
the ingenuity that went into the design and construction back in those
early days, Wilson said.
Clifty Creek, which reports its earnings to shareholders, reported an
income of $26.3 million in 2004.
With these recent new government regulations coming down, weve
had to be pro-active to get out ahead of them and put these new controls
into place. It will be change, for sure.
Below is the Ohio Valley
Electric Corp.s (which owns both
Clifty Creek and Kyger Creek)
of Sponsoring Companies:
3.5 Allegheny Energy Inc.
39.17 American Electric Power Co. Inc.
9.0 Buckeye Power Generating, LLC
9.0 Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. (Cinergy)
4.3 Columbus Southern Power & Light Co. (AEP)
4.9 Dayton Power & Light Co.
2.5 Kentucky Utilities Co. (E.ON AG)
5.63 Louisville Gas & Electric Co. (E.ON AG)
16.5 Ohio Edison Co. (FirstEnergy Corp.)
1.5 Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co. (Vectren Corp)
4.0 Toledo Edison Co. (FirstEnergy Corp.)
Source: OVEC/IKEC 2004 Annual Report
Carnes said plant officials have recently entertained
city and state officials, including those from the Indiana Department
of Natural Resources, who operate Clifty Falls State Park. They
were concerned about the location of the new stack and that it might
block the view from the newly renovated lodge. But once they realized
where the stack is being placed, they were fine with it, Carnes
The new stack will go up immediately east of the current one closest
to Hwy. 56 and not far out into the easternmost ash pits, as park officials
had thought, he said.
Wilson said that when finished, the new scrubbers will enable the plant
to operate with an environmentally cleaner process significantly
reducing the carbon dioxide emissions. The plume rising out of
the new stack will be different than that of todays it
will a billow white column year-round, similar to that at the Ghent,
Ky., power station, operated by E.ON AGs LG&E Energy.
The difference is, the height of the new stack will keep
the steam high above the hill when it leaves the plant.
The new plume will essentially be water vapor, Wilson explained.
It will be the most obvious sign that the plants emissions
are cleaner than they were before.
Wilson said plant officials continue to explore ways to minimize the
noise from the plants new scrubbers and auxiliary equipment.
Construction employment is expected to top 450 workers. Once finished
and operational, the new scrubbers are expected to require adding 20
new full-time employees.
of a behemoth
The Clifty Creek story begins in the early 1950s when
the need for an enormous amount of electricity was needed by the nations
Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to fuel a uranium enrichment plant near
Portsmith, Ohio, as part of the Cold War years. Fifteen electric companies
joined together to form Ohio Valley Electric Corp. and its subsidiary,
Because the AEC needed the plants in operation as soon
as possible, the consortium decided it would be faster and more affordable
to build two plants instead of one larger one. It also would be harder
for an enemy to bomb two plants versus one.
The consortium beat its construction timetable by nine months in assembling
the two almost identical plants, powered by 11 Babcock & Wilcox
coal-burning boilers Madisons Clifty Creek plant and its
sister plant, Kyger Creek, in Cheshire, Ohio, 200 miles up river.
by Don Ward
plant manager at I.K.E.C.,
poses on top of the main
building at Clifty Creek
Power Station in Madison. Behind him is the massive
SCR scrubbers that were installed in 2002 to reduce
the nitrogen oxide from
the coal-burning flue
It was almost like a race to see which plant could
be built first, and both plants were finished well ahead of schedule,
Carnes said, referring to a 1950s videotape made at the time about the
two plants construction.
Groundbreaking for both plants took place in December 1952. Earl Snodgrass
headed construction in Madison, while his counterpart, Fred Carman,
directed construction at Kyger Creek.
More than 6,000 laborers in various skills were needed, and materials
had to be ordered two years in advance, according to the videotape account.
Ingredients to make concrete came from local sources, but steel had
to be brought in from Kansas and Michigan. The smoke stacks, when finished,
were the largest in the world at the time.
In February 1955, 26 months later, the first 215,000-kilowatt generating
unit at each plant began operating. By March 1956, the 11th and final
unit was placed on line. Construction of the two plants, together with
the 345,000-volt transmission system that included 800 miles of electric
wires and 200-foot tall towers (four per mile) running back to Portsmith,
cost approximately $385 million. No government funds were used to build
the two plants, which came in well under the estimated construction
cost of $440 million.
At that time, Clifty Creek, with a capacity to generate 1.302 million
kilowatts of electricity, and Kyger Creek, at 1.075 million kilowatts,
ranked as the worlds two largest investor-owned power generating
Clifty Creek power station held its official dedication day on May 23,
1956; Kyger Creeks was held the following day.
at full power
Today, the plant operates with a two-month supply of coal
on hand and burns 7.5 barges a day of coal, or 14,000 tons. That is
equivalent to 4.5 million tons a year. More than 1.4 billion gallons
of Ohio River water cycles through the plant daily to condense the steam
and return to the river. The six boilers at Clifty Creek are as tall
as an 11-story building, each lined with 150 miles of tubing that carry
water through the system. The boilers heat the water, turning it into
steam. The steam is piped into the turbines at 1,050 degrees and 2,000
pounds of pressure. The turbines spin the generators, which produce
Miles of wiring connects the boilers, turbines and generators to the
six control rooms, one for each of Cliftys generating units. These
bomb-proof rooms are located inside what was the base of the three original
stacks. The current two stacks stand just outside the main building.
courtesy of IKEC
first of Clifty Creeks original three
stacks goes up in March 1954 during
the early construction phase.
Large circuit breakers send the electricity out across
the transmission wires to customers throughout the Midwest, since OVECs
agreement with the government to supply power to the Portsmith uranium
enrichment plant ended in 2003. The sponsoring utility companies
that own all shares of OVEC/IKEC have extended their inter-company power
agreement through March 2026 to operate and sell the power generated
from the two plants.
The plant has provided jobs for a lot of people in Kentucky and
Indiana over the years, said Everette Schwarm, 82, Clifty Creeks
third in a line of five plant managers who served from late 1966-1986.
Howard Barr was the first plant manager in 1955, followed by Ivan Hawk,
Schwarm, Bill Mayberry and Wilson.
courtesy of IKEC
final of three original stacks
goes up in June 1955. An almost identical
power plant, Kyger Creek, was built simultaneously by
I.K.E.C. in Cheshire, Ohio.
We had a lot of challenges that came up, but we
were always able to deal with them because we had good people,
said Schwarm, a native of Loogootee, Ill., who now resides in Hanover,
Schwarm said as new technology is brought in, it becomes more involved
to operate because it is often more complicated. He said the new scrubbers
and stack will create change for employees, but added, Once the
work is complete, the plant should be good for another 20 years, which
is good for the employees and the community.
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