The fire that crippled the Drake Power Plant back in May also pushed utility rates up for Colorado Springs Utilities customers.
Customers got some relief when one of the plant's units came back on; prior to that, CSU was having to rely completely on power from outside sources to keep utilities running uninterrupted post-fire. The utility company says that customers should see a more significant drop at the end of this month, when a second unit comes back online.
When Unit 7, the largest of the three power generators, is back to producing power at the end of August, the plant will be running at 80 percent capacity--a huge jump from the 30 percent it is running at now. The fact that it's on the verge of coming back on is not only great news for customers, who should see a noticeable difference in their bills, but for the company, who says this is ahead of schedule.
The plant itself is still months away from being fully repaired. Springs Utilities told 11 News the final repairs aren't expected to be completed until next May. That's because the third and final generator that crews have to repair is the most heavily damaged. Crews haven't even been able to get to the turbine and evaluate it yet. Workers have been getting wiring and piping ready for when that turbine is repaired, but until they can actually access it, they just won't know how bad the damage is.
Crews remain optimistic.
"We really believe that the turbine generator unit is in pretty good shape, but we won't have confirmation of that until we can actually lift the cover off, and we can't lift the cover off until the crane rail is repaired, and that rail was damaged in the fire," Daniel Higgins with Springs Utilities said.