The Coal Users’ Group (CUG) during their annual meeting held earlier this week in Orlando, Florida named Platte River Power Authority’s (Platte River) Rawhide Energy Station the 2023 Plant of the Year.

“From its inception, Rawhide has operated as a world-class facility and I’m pleased that it’s being named Plant of the Year,” said Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of Platte River. “This prestigious designation for Rawhide Unit 1 is made possible through the commitment and dedication of all Platte River employees, past and present, who ensure the safe and successful operation of the unit.”

The CUG determines the Plant of the Year by seeking out power plants across the country who are innovative in their operations, implement best practices and make continual improvements in the areas of safety, environmental performance, coal handling, boiler and combustion and risk management.

Rawhide Unit 1 is Platte River’s coal-fired power generation resource that, together with wind, solar, hydropower and natural gas, is used to meet the growing energy needs of the utility’s owner communities of Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, Colorado.

Commissioned in spring of 1984, Rawhide Unit 1 has long been a model for efficiency, reliability and environmental performance with a lifetime capacity factor of 84.31%. In 2019, the unit achieved a record-breaking 436 days of continuous operation, and continues to run without interruption for more than 100 and 200 days at a time. Rawhide Unit 1 was designed to burn a low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and was among the first units in the United States to include a spray dry absorber that removes sulfur dioxide (SO2) from gases produced by burning coal. This makes Rawhide one of the lowest SO2-emitting coal plants in the country.

“The Coal Users’ Group has a clear understanding of how much work is required to successfully operate a safe, reliable power generation facility while pushing the boundaries of innovation to serve the growing energy needs of our communities across the country,” shares Bob Taylor, who serves as an executive committee member and secretary for the CUG. “Rawhide Unit 1 illuminates the very meaning of this accolade from their peers and is a timely designation as Platte River uses coal-generation to support the expansion of renewables and its growing, diverse energy portfolio.”

The Plant of the Year recognition for Rawhide Unit 1 comes during a critical time for Platte River and its owner communities. The Resource Diversification Policy passed in 2018 calls for the pursuit of a 100% noncarbon energy mix, and employees at Rawhide have successfully ramped down Unit 1 from 280 megawatts of output to 80 megawatts to allow more renewables on the system. Rawhide will continue to be a critical part of Platte River’s resource portfolio, maintaining reliability and operational flexibility, until it’s retirement in December 2029.

An open house is scheduled for late June this year for CUG members to tour the Rawhide Energy Station and to meet the employees who maintain the award-winning unit.