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During those sub-zero windchills the propane air plant helps save the day   

  by  Steve  on  2/10/2020

​Growing up in Louisiana, I became a self-professed expert in heat, humidity, boiled crawfish, New Orleans Saints football, Mardi Gras, and the glorious Monkey Hill in Audubon Park (a little mound of dirt that was our version of a 'mountain'). I even thought I knew what it was like to be cold -- yes, in Louisiana. When temps dropped below 50 degrees, it certainly felt cold. The evidence seemed to support that theory, such as exploding water pipes, spinouts in rear wheel drive muscle cars and school cancellations. However, after many years of living in Colorado and freezing my brain noodles to oblivion, the cold here can be on another plane of reality.  propane.jpg

Despite years of acclimation, the past few days of frozen agony have reminded me that my genetics were never built for cold weather. For example, I've never understood why so many of you spend large sums of money to travel precarious high mountain passes to have the priviledge to hurl yourselves off of a frozen mountain on foot sticks, only to do it again, and again, and again -- and consider it a HOLIDAY!?! Brr...

Anyway, I'm immensely appreciative that I have reliable heat inside my home and my office. Despite that appreciation, if I didn't work for Colorado Springs Utilities, I'd probably take for granted what it took to power my furnace.

The truth is it takes complex infrastructure and many talented employees to keep heat flowing to our homes and workplaces. For example, at Springs Utilities, we don't just rely on traditional sources of fuel to provide heat for our customers. When it gets really, really cold, we are able to tap into a very cool facility -- the propane air plant -- to augment our natural gas supply. The plant is a great example of the legacy of visionary leadership at Springs Utilities. Thanks to this foresight, we're able to save money by not having to purchase more natural gas on the market during peak demand and reduce the risk for service disruptions in sub-zero wind chills.

Our propane air plant, where we produce a synthetic form of natural gas, provides additional gas supply to our distribution system during peak use times or when regional supplies are low. The plant is available for synthetic natural gas production from October to May annually. It even looks cool, like something out of the X-Files or your favorite sci-fi film. The good news, however, is that I can confirm there are no aliens or black goo housed within the large, white cylinders you may see when driving down Marksheffel Road.

Since we began upgrading the plant in January 2017 we have increased the plant capacity. These upgrades provide operational flexibility and reduce our dependence on external gas supplies during peak gas load events. We also installed infrastructure for additional future expansion if needed.

Learn more about the propane air plant.

Economic Development Disclaimer: I have nothing against skiing. Yes, I've tried it and no, it wasn't for me. Also, it's not that cold here. I'm just not wired for anything below 40 degrees, but that's because I'm odd. Some experts have even theorized that I was likely created in a lab late on a Friday - after a happy hour - and on a day that the scientists misplaced the growth and advanced brain development serum.

 
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