TMU’s diesel generators face cold weather testing hurdles

TMU Generator in Winter News Graphic
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Additional information has been provided by TMU regarding the testing of the reciprocating internal combustion engines at the power plants in Trenton. Utility Director Ron Urton says there are five diesel engines at the North Sub-station and seven diesel engines at the South Sub-station, also known as generators.

Urton stated that TMU is required to test the generators quarterly throughout the year. The Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) encourages TMU to conduct tests when the power demand is high, such as during extreme cold temperatures, which Trenton experienced this week.

When a forecast of cold weather is issued, Urton mentions that the market prices for electricity are higher. MPUA suggested TMU run the generators earlier this week, which would count as the first quarter test (January to March). This was optional.

Urton explained that TMU’s electric crew attempted to operate the generators but was unable to start the engines. If they did start, the breaker would not close on the generators due to the extreme cold. Urton noted that there is no penalty for Trenton failing to get the generators running. TMU still has until the end of March to complete the first quarter testing.

The last prolonged cold snap occurred in February 2021. At that time, Urton recalled that Trenton was required to run the diesel generators – it was mandatory. Urton warns that new regulations are forthcoming. If Trenton Municipal is called upon to operate the generators, which supply power to the electric grid serving multiple municipalities, and it fails to do so, Urton said there might be a penalty in terms of a reduction in capacity credits.

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