Zuni Station

Built in 1900 by an entrepreneurial group and first named the LaCombe Plant, the Zuni Station is located close to downtown Denver, Colorado. An oil or natural gas-fired station that generates electricity, Zuni station is also able to produce 300,000 pounds of steam hourly. Its electricity output is 107 megawatts: 39 come from Unit 1 and 68 come from Unit 2. The Zuni Station is Xcel’s only system that supplies both steam and electricity for its end-use customers.

In 2004, Zuni Station modernized with a new transformer configuration. In the first year after installation, the highly efficient transformer saved Xcel over 30,000 megawatt hours of energy. Emissions associated with nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide were also reduced, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Ninety-eight million gallons of water per year are drawn from the South Platte River by the Zuni plant for condenser cooling. Government agencies, including the City Of Denver, have designed plans to change the river channel. When this long-range plan is carried out, the Zuni Station’s cooling system will be rendered obsolete. A closed-loop system with its own cooling tower is one of several options the plant’s owners are considering.

For the better part of the 20th century, mills, factories and power plants, including the Zuni Station, were commonly constructed with asbestos. The mineral was used for its natural resistance to electrical current, flame and heat. It was intended to protect workers and property, and its short term use was effective. However, the  consequences of using the dangerous substance were too late to save many workers from the risk of devastating health problems that exposure to asbestos dust cause.

When materials containing fibrous asbestos become friable, they release tiny needle-like fibers into the air. If these fibers are inhaled, they can cause respiratory or other illnesses by burrowing into the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen and causing a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma. This is a deadly form of cancer with a poor prognosis by the time it is diagnosed, and few treatment options generally exist after it appears. Workers who suspect they suffered asbestos exposure are encouraged to seek medical screening for symptoms of these diseases by many in the medical profession.