FAIRMONT - In the early morning hours of June 7-8, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Fairmont Public Utilities will conduct black-start tests of the Fairmont Energy Station. Power to a portion of Fairmont will be interrupted from 1:30-4 a.m.
"It's a live test of how the generators will react to a full-scale power outage," explained Marty Meixell, electricity distributor supervisor superintendent for Fairmont Public Utilities. "It will be a shutoff from the plant with the new generators running, so it will be going from a full load to no load instantly. It's kind of like the power failure we had last week, so it can and will happen again."
The affected area is bordered on the north by Margaret Street, to include the north farm line, and on the south by Hall Street; on the East by Dewey Street and on the West by County Road 39, to include the west industrial park.
Areas north of I-90, including Buffalo Lake, will also be affected.
One reason the energy station was built was to supply power to the city in the event of a blackout. This test will measure that capability.
"We're seeing how the generators will react," Meixell said. "There won't be any flickers or anything. We'll be operating in what we call 'island mode'; we're just testing it in the plant."
SMMPA is putting out the notice of the blackout and is contacting businesses.
"Some of them will want to shut down their servers," Meixell said.
SMMPA has scheduled the blocks of time for the tests, but the entire time may not be needed.
"If there are issues, that is why we have the next night to address the issues from the previous night," Meixell said. "We put a limit on two to three hours; we are not allowing it to go any further than that ... Most people will just sleep through it hopefully. If there are issues, we will switch out and get the power back on, We don't want our customers to be without power any longer than necessary."
The $30 million energy station, needed to replace retired generation, provides up to 25 megawatts of high-efficiency, low-emission energy. It is SMMPA's first new, conventional generation since completion of the Sherco 3 generating station in 1987.
The project is a dispersed generating plant interconnected directly to Fairmont's load distribution system. further increasing reliability.