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Download: OPC Helps Dairyland Increase Power Production

"MatrikonOPC products have performed flawlessly. We have had absolutely no problem with the interface system." Duane Hill, Dairlyland Power Cooperative

Dairyland Power Cooperative is a Wisconsin-based generation and transmission cooperative (G&T) that provides the wholesale electrical requirements and other services for 25 electric distribution cooperatives and 20 municipal utilities in the Upper Midwest .

The company’s John P. Madgett Power Station, built on the Mississippi river at a cost of $179 million, has been in commercial operation since November 1979. The large single unit station has a generating capacity of 400 MW of electricity.

Dairyland’s Plan to Improve
In the fall of 2004, Dairyland began a modernization project that would increase its capacity by 24 MW and improve reliability by more than 6%. Extensive maintenance and equipment upgrades, including the installation of an Intelligent Sootblowing System and the replacement of the plant control system, were performed as the plant underwent a major overhaul.

In order for the Intelligent Sootblowing System to perform optimally, it required approximately 100 inputs of field data from the plant’s Emerson/Westinghouse Ovation DCS, updated every 5-10 seconds. To ensure efficiencies in power production, energy savings, and a reduction in equipment and maintenance costs, a reliable data link between the plant's DCS and the sootblowing computer was required.

Standards-Based Solution
Because both the sootblowing system and the DCS were OPC-compatible, Dairyland researched possible OPC solutions that would improve data reliability. After evaluating software from MatrikonOPC, they opted for their standards-based OPC solutions as the best technology to provide fast and reliable connectivity for the project. OPC is a standards-based technology used to transfer data among devices and applications. OPC products are inexpensive, easy to use, and provide off-the-shelf solutions based on open industrial connectivity standards.

Dairyland’s Duane Hill explained how the software was deployed: “Two MatrikonOPC products were used. First we used the free OPC Explorer Utility to help identify the control system’s point structure, and to determine the actual point names. We then implemented MatrikonOPC Tunneling technology to eliminate DCOM setup issues, and to ensure the highest level of reliable data exchange between the two systems. OPCExplorer was used again to verify data was being passed and to set up the points needed.” OPC Tunneling technology provided a dependable solution connecting disparate systems together providing true interoperability.

Hill added, “OPC reduced implementation costs and time. We were able to do the integration ourselves and with no problems, in a minimal amount of time. I installed Tunneller on the Ovation DCS first and then on the client computer. Within 5 minutes I had data access at the client verified by OPCExplorer. Within a few more minutes, I had data being transferred to the client. Implementation of OPCTunneler was effortless.”

The problem with traditional maintenance is that it is scheduled on a periodic, regular basis regardless of equipment usage and operating condition. Thus, equipment that is rarely used receives the same amount of maintenance as frequently used equipment. Consequently, some equipment is maintained too often, thereby increasing maintenance costs unnecessarily, and yet other equipment suffers undue wear-and-tear while waiting for its scheduled maintenance. This results in expensive repair costs that could have been avoided, and more importantly, ignores required maintenance activities that should be performed immediately.

Real time data from the Westinghouse Ovation DCS utilized by new sootblower will allow the Madgett generating Station operators to prioritize and optimize their maintenance resources. “Instead of blowing on a schedule determined by the personal decision of an operator, the sootblowing response will be activated based on real time events or conditions within the boiler”, resulting in the prevention of unscheduled downtime on account of tube wastage, fouling and plugged air heaters. Because these factors can be measured, software applications can automatically monitor them and alert maintenance only when the equipment condition necessitates action.

Dairyland is considering a similar project at another plant in the next few years.

About Dairyland Power Co-operative

Dairyland Power Co-operative with headquarters in La Crosse, Wis, provides wholesale electricity to 25 member distribution cooperatives and 20 municipal utilities. Dairyland's service area encompasses 62 counties in four states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois). Dairyland has provided low-cost, reliable electrical energy and related services to its customers in the upper Midwest for over 63 years. Today, the cooperative’s generating stations have more than 1,100 megawatt capacity.

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