The Valmont Station is a steam-electric, coal-fired power plant located in Boulder, Colorado. It consists of four generators. Two of the generators, unit V5 and unit V6, are owned by Excel Energy and runs on coal, natural gas or fuel oil. Two smaller generators are owned by Southwest Generation.
The Valmont Station is one of the oldest electric plants operating in the United States. Construction of the plant was started in 1921, and it began operating in 1924. By 1942, the plant had four generators producing a total of 122.5 megawatts of electricity and was the largest power plant west of the Missouri River. Valmont remained Xcel Energy’s largest plant in Colorado into the 1960s.
Unit V5 was constructed at the Valmont Plant and went online in 1964. This generator primarily runs on coal, but can also be fueled by natural gas. It has an output of 186 megawatts. Unit V6 was added to the plant in 1973 and can run on either natural gas or fuel oil. It has an output of 43 megawatts. Unit V5 is cooled by water circulating from three lakes surrounding the plant. In 1986, the original four units were decommissioned, leaving only V5 and V6 operating for Xcel Energy.
The two generators owned by Southwest Generation are both fueled by natural gas. One turbine has an output of 43 megawatts and the other has an output of 40 megawatts. All the electricity generated by these turbines is sold to and distributed by Xcel Energy. Counting all four units, the total electricity currently generated by the Valmont Station is 312 megawatts.
The three bodies of water surrounding the plant are not only valued for cooling purposes, but they attract a variety of flora and fauna. Waterfowl are abundant on the lakes, and great horned owls live in a nest box located at a height of 260 feet on one of Valmont’s three smoke stacks. Xcel Energy has installed a live webcam inside the nest box so the public can view the owls.
Valmont Station uses strict emissions-reducing technology that controls air pollution produced by the plant. It is the most emissions-efficient plant run by Xcel Energy. One of these control systems include what is called a baghouse, which vacuums the air and removes solid particulates. This reduces emissions that go through smokestacks by 99 percent.
Excel Energy also supports community-organized environmental initiatives, helping to raise funds for protection of the local plants and wild animals. Despite their work to improve the area surrounding them, past conditions inside their plants may have put employees at risk, as asbestos was frequently used as an insulator in the building itself, and on the equipment. As the plants with these asbestos materials aged, it became increasingly likely employees came into contact with the material, especially if they were given no protective equipment to reduce exposure.