Klamath Cogeneration Plant

Continuous-improvement mindset enables Klamath Cogen to better its award-winning ideas

Klamath Cogeneration and Peakers encompasses a 2 × 1 combined cycle consisting of two Siemens 501FD3 gas turbines and an Alstom steam turbine (foreground), plus two simple-cycle Pratt & Whitney FT8 TwinPacs (top, left of center). The 536-MW combined cycle began commercial operation July 29, 2001; the 100 MW of aero capacity went into service in June 2002

Iberdrola Renewables’ Klamath Cogeneration facility, Klamath Falls, Ore, has been a mainstay of the CCJ Best Practices Awards program since its inception 10 years ago (photo, sidebar at end of article). CCJ editors got together on the phone with Ray Martens, plant manager; Tim Kelly, EH&S engineer; and Bruce Willard, operations and engineering manager, to elaborate on what’s been happening since for half a dozen of the plant’s award-winning best practices. Martens, a former chair of CTOTF’s Siemens Roundtable, currently is a vice chair of the 501F Users Group.

1. OSHA Voluntary Protection Program

Many plants might shudder at the OSHA acronym. Klamath embraced Oregon’s OSHA programs as a means for advancing safety to the highest level and building the plant’s program from the ground up, rather than rely on a canned program or adapt the parent company’s templates. The plant first went through the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), then kicked it up a notch by proceeding through the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Martens and staff report that the plant recently recertified for another four and a half years.

“The recent process went much smoother than the original certification,” says Kelly. “During the original, we pulled our initial application because we found items on the punch list we could not mitigate in the required 90-day period. We fixed those things, mostly having to do with ammonia systems and handling. Our 90-day punch list was much more manageable for the second application, mostly involving things like ladders, gates for ladders, and mechanical integrity issues—such as operating valves, changing heating elements, etc.

Having a proactive relationship with OSHA is invaluable, emphasizes the staff. For one thing, OSHA will not just “drop in” for a surprise inspection. For another, Klamath is able to pursue dialogue with the agency over disagreements. Once, OSHA sent to Klamath a freshly trained auditor on his first opportunity to apply what he had learned in a four-week training program.



The plant had a disagreement about whether Klamath’s DCS should be included in the Process Safety Management (PSM) program, but Martens and his team were able to reach agreement and demonstrate that the DCS equipment was designed and proven to have millions of hours before failure (MTBF>1-million hours). The plant is also able to fill gaps in the OSHA program with accepted industry standards, rather than “reinvent the wheel.”

“For our part,” observes Martens, “we have learned things about the plant we didn’t know, and we fix things as we go, pre-empting problems down the road. Many of our issues have been little things neglected, overlooked, or not specified when the plant was built. The overall cost has been minimal, and when we needed overtime for our back-shift operators to complete their training on the day shift, we got no push back from our parent. Iberdrola Renewables has been very supportive.”


    • Don’t wait for OSHA to come to you if you have proactive programs in your state.

    • Have patience, don’t get frustrated, and start with a plant-wide desire to cooperate with regulatory personnel. Making health and safety programs something owned by your staff pays off in spades.

    • Hazardous chemical management is an area for “sweating the little stuff.”

    • Don’t let the PSM program creep into areas where it doesn’t belong (like the DCS).

2. ISO 14001 certification

European companies typically require compliance with the voluntary ISO 14001 certification process for environmental management. Iberdrola is no exception. Big ticket items for Klamath were having an Environmental Management System (EMS) manual, instituting document control, and expanding training programs with a focus on the environment.

“We weren’t familiar with this program, it was wholly driven by our parent, but having now completed the certification and annual audits, we’ve learned it has significant value,” says Martens, “we had to clean up wording and make additions to our existing policies and procedures.”

Regarding document control, the plant needs one set of equipment instruction manuals to be a control set, which at Klamath resides in the control room. In essence, one member of the staff functions as the librarian, updating and revising this set of manuals. Copies have to be stamped and marked to avoid multiple revisions of the same drawings. Online documents on the plant intranet have to be in a non-editable format. Document control is not as straightforward as it may seem, and Klamath retained outside expertise to assist.

Part of the plant’s continuous improvement plan, which can involve policy changes or physical system modifications to reduce environmental impact, is to be pursuing at least one environmental improvement project at all times—although Klamath usually has four or five going on. “An example is our new fast-start capability on our peaking units, which included the revised NFPA HRSG purge guidelines,” notes Willard. “Because we can now push a button and be at rated capacity in six or seven minutes, our emissions are less.” While the motivation for the project was fast start, emissions reduction is part of continuous improvement.


    • Programs prevalent in other parts of the world may have value here.

    • Assign a resource to oversee document management.

    • Environmental improvement, like safety, is a state of mind as much as it is codified in policies and procedures.

3. Elimination of secondary-containment entry

The original goal here was to eliminate the need for personnel to enter hazardous areas for scheduled duties. Areas of focus were the anhydrous ammonia tank, transformers, and demineralizer regeneration water area.

The plant continues to make small changes to improve access to equipment within secondary containments. For example, they’ve made minor adjustments to how pH probes are mounted, removed equipment out of spill zones, and added platforms specifically designed for safety. A notable improvement from this activity is that Klamath had an undersized single bleach tank, used to treat the secondary water sent back to the city wastewater treatment plant (see No. 5 below).

This added cost because the size was not commensurate with that of the tanker trucks making deliveries. Klamath replaced the one undersized tank with four smaller ones, which together take a full load from the tanker. This saves on deliveries; less travel by tanker trucks also improves the plant’s overall environmental profile. The new tanks are more compatible with the secondary containment to boot.


    • Safety and environmental impact can often go hand in hand.

    • Plant environmental impact goes beyond the plant’s borders.

4. Management-of-change program

Numerous upgrade projects were identified and implemented following plant commissioning in 2000. Some of these modifications could have been done better. Not all affected departments were consulted. Documentation was inadequate. Drawings, lockout procedures, diagrams, and control-system logic prints had slowly become inaccurate. Some modifications had to be done more than once, adding needless cost. A Management of Change (MOC) program (paper-based) was developed to address these issues.

“We continue to use this system to successfully implement projects and mods, and we ignore it at our peril, having had less than optimal project experience when it is not used,” observes Martens. Since accepting the CCJ award, the plant has applied the MOC program to the entire site, the cogeneration plant and the peaking units, even new equipment in the administration building.

Willard states, “Changes to drawings always seem to happen last, but the MOC process stays open until the as-builts are revised, or new drawings are received and approved. Mechanics come up with great ideas and make changes, but they may not have talked to all the operators or other stakeholders. MOC prevents them from making a mod that could negatively impact the operators or adversely affect safety.”

Today, every change is forced through the MOC review process, and decisions therefore have buy-in from all. It has broad applicability in less obvious areas too. For example, notes Martens, “when someone on staff retires, the MOC process forces us to think about how to replace that resource and experience.”


    • Change has to be managed; it doesn’t just happen because someone thinks he/she has a better way.

5. Waste-stream reduction

Klamath replaced with heat exchangers a direct-contact quench cooling system using reclaimed water (gray water). This is the last treatment point for the blowdown from the HRSGs and the aux boiler before being returned to the city wastewater treatment plant seven miles away. The source of quench water for the original system caused abnormal loading of chemicals and heavy metals on the city’s facility. Cooling is required because the underground drain piping installed by the OEM is made of HDPE material with an upper temperature limit of 160F, and the plant’s discharge permit limit is 140F. Eliminating the cooling operation was not an option.

Among other benefits, Klamath saves $20,000 a month in sewer costs by reducing the volume of wastewater sent to the city. A key point in all this is that Klamath Cogeneration originally was owned by the city of Klamath Falls. The new cooling system is oversized so that no additional controls or instruments were needed. “It doesn’t matter how cool the water is, once it’s below 140F,” says Martens.

Martens elaborated on the scheme. “We have an evaporation pond for storm-water runoff, but the plant as-built had no real cooling-water makeup storage. We depended solely on the secondary treatment discharge from the city, which is also obligated to supplement that flow with well water if not sufficient.”

The plant applied for and received permission from the state to use the pond for raw makeup cooling water storage. “Once, when the main water supply and return lines were ruptured accidentally, we sucked on that pond for 12 hours and limped through while repairs were made. Our concentration cycles exceeded our design limits, but we made it through.”

Overall, the city and the plant benefit from reducing the loading on the city’s facility and partially managing the plant’s makeup water needs with the evaporation pond. Another note: When the plant was built, the discharge to the city remained below the detectable levels for metals, but with better instruments, the detectable level changed.

The plant had to upgrade the quality of the acid it uses—from industrial grade to electrolyte grade and now acid made from yellowcake sulfur. Bleach and acid are both added at Klamath and residual concentrations are verified before discharging water to the city’s treatment facility, insuring biological control is maintained in the piping system.


    • Contaminant detection capabilities constantly improve.

    • Changes in ownership structures may have to be reflected in changes in physical systems when two facilities share resources.

6. Boiler-feed-pump VFDs

A plant designed to operate base-load adds to its parasitic losses when operated at part load and when cycled. Like many combined cycles, Klamath found it was called upon to operate at part load and cycle more frequently in the mid part of the last decade, when natural gas became expensive and regional grids/markets were in an over-capacity situation.

The plant searched for cost-effective ways to reduce the losses. Installing variable frequency drives (VFD) on the 2300-hp boiler-feed pumps proved to be some of the lowest hanging fruit. Payback was favorable but made even more so because the plant also qualified for state energy conservation subsidies.

At the time, work was in progress to identify other large-pump candidates for VFDs. Martens and company report that, indeed, they have since added VFDs to one of their 600-hp condensate pumps, 100-hp cooling tower blowdown pump, and a 75-hp desuperheater pump serving the steam host. Driven equipment that did not pass the investment hurdle includes the 1000-hp circulating-water pumps (the plant has three pumps and 50% redundancy) and the 200-hp cooling-tower fans (motors already were two-speed).

“The steam-host desuperheater pump qualified because the host is taking less steam than originally designed for,” notes Willard, “so the motor is oversized for current conditions averaging 70,000 lb/hr, but we still are contractually obligated to deliver 200,000 lb/hr, so we couldn’t just replace the original motor with a smaller one.”

“Selecting a VFD supplier was arduous,” Willard went on, “but Toshiba met all of our specifications. One competitor included a large transformer because it could not meet our voltage requirements without it. Another had a unique approach based on varying current instead of voltage but in the end we could not convince ourselves that there was a good reason for their approach. A third vendor was essentially supplying a Toshiba VFD under a private label.”

One issue the plant had to solve when integrating controls is that the driven pump exhibits vibration problems below 60% of rated speed. So, the VFD is in control when speeds of 70% or higher are required. Martens’ staff is very happy, in particular, with how the VFD controls and the DCS work together. An unexpected benefit is the trim in the HRSG feed regulating and recirculation valves on the boiler feed pump discharge lines experience significantly less wear and tear.

The plant recently completed overhauls of the pumps after more than a dozen years of operation; no damage was attributed to the use of VFDs.


    • VFDs are reliable, reduce parasitic load, and meet expectations but the cost may not pencil out for all motor drives.

    • Pay special attention to integration of the VFD controls with your plant’s control systems. CCJ

Klamath an industry leader in best practices

The Best Practices Awards program for owners and operators of generating facilities powered by gas turbines, sponsored by the CCJ with widespread industry support, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2014. To commemorate the occasion, the editors are recognizing the plant staffs that have shared most generously the technology, procedures, and ideas they have used to assure top performance on a predictable and repeatable basis while minimizing emissions and maintaining a safe working environment.

There are two levels of awards to recognize the achievements at individual plants: Best Practices and The Best of the Best, as voted by a team of highly experienced judges. Klamath Cogen is one of five facilities receiving special recognition. The plant earned a total of 17 awards during the program’s first decade (list below).

Its success, and that of the four other generating facilities—Tenaska Virginia, Tenaska Lindsay Hill, Tenaska Central Alabama, and CAMS-operated Effingham County Power—reflects a commitment to sharing by very capable management teams that have been in place since COD, in most cases. Continuity of ownership, and an executive corps with deep experience in plant engineering and operations, also contributed significantly to the success of the facilities recognized.

Best of the Best Awards

2013 Performance Improvement
2008 Operation & Maintenance
2007 Management
        Environmental Stewardship

Best Practices Awards

2014 Fast Start
2012 Environmental Stewardship
2011 Design
        Operation & Maintenance
2010 Management
2009 Safety
2008 Environmental Stewardship
2007 Operation & Maintenance