Best Practices: Newington – Combined Cycle Journal

Best Practices: Newington

Essential Power Newington
Owned by Essential Power Investments. Operated by Cogentrix Energy Power Management
565-MW, dual-fuel, 2 × 1 combined cycle located in Newington, NH. Plant operated baseload from COD in 2002 until it began cycling in 2008.
Plant manager: Tom Fallon

Rehabilitation of EHC fluid boosts starting reliability 

Challenge. During a routine plant cycle/startup, the right-side HP steam control valve failed to open and allow steam to flow to the D11 turbine. The startup was aborted, the electrohydraulic (EHC) control system was secured by LOTO, and the servo valve controlling fluid flow to the valve actuator was replaced. Newington was restarted and the HP control valve responded as expected; plant operation was restored to “normal.”

When the failed servo was shipped to Moog for rebuild, an in-depth failure analysis found what appeared to be a varnish-like substance on the nozzle top and flapper to the torque motor. An EHC oil sample was sent immediately to a certified laboratory for contaminant (varnish, water, metals) analysis, an estimate of the oil’s remaining service life, etc.

Lab results: The deposits, originally thought to be varnish, actually were carbon. At the time of the servo failure, the EHC system included a kidney-loop varnish removal/filtration system. Site personnel, who relied on the fluid OEM for sample analysis (no charge), came to learn that the lab effort did not fully check the fluid for all required parameters. The only parameter that had dropped recently was resistivity and the reason for that was to be investigated.

Staff’s first thought was to dump the oil and flush the system, which would have been extremely expensive.

Solution. Plant personnel embarked on a multi-faceted plan to review contaminated-oil sample results, discuss possible solutions with industry experts, implement corrective actions to mitigate system condition, and avoid a fluid change-out.

Site staff worked with Advanced Fluid Systems, a fluid-power solutions provider, and filter OEM Hy-Pro Filtration to develop the following approach for removing contaminants from the system:

Change the EHC fluid filter media to eliminate sparking.
Inject dry instrument air into the head space of the tank.
Rent an electrostatic contamination removal skid to pull out the carbon deposits.
Use improved oil analysis to monitor trends.

Also, a hydraulic fluid pump rep visited Newington to perform a system walkdown and make sure there wasn’t some abnormality causing the fluid contamination.

Results. Following the EHC system changes, staff performed semi-monthly sample analyses to monitor trends in fluid cleanliness. With the results of the analyses showing improved fluid characteristics over time and the visual indication of the fluid becoming more transparent, staff knew the plant’s approach was working.

By discussing Newington’s problem with many industry experts, staff was able to get several opinions on what to look for regarding the source of contamination, which ultimately was carbon buildup. With expert input and the plant’s commitment to finding a solution, staff was able to effectively clean-up the system and eliminate the need to replace the existing fluid.

This demonstrated to site personnel that by focusing on an issue and not letting the path of least resistance become your answer, you can effectively eliminate a problem long-term. Had we simply changed the fluid without performing the other steps in the process, carbon contamination would have reappeared in a matter of time.

Project participants:
Chad Harrison, maintenance manager
Tom Jamison, technician
Ted Karabinas, technician

PI tools help improve situational awareness, work processes

This best practice is divided into two different, but similar, business-challenge paths and targeted solutions surrounding the use of existing PI tools and control-room recordkeeping.

No. 1. Situational awareness and information-sharing is a best practice that should be used across multiple fronts. With regard to operational awareness and NERC compliance, Newington decided to further utilize the PI Notification Tool to automatically send e-mails to communicate several different key plant operational and NERC compliance conditions. PI Notifications included chemical tank levels, breaker operational counters, key equipment temperature monitoring, facility forced power oscillations, and NERC VAR-002 notifications.

Situational awareness for facility personnel is crucial to ensure timely and accurate response to changes in plant conditions. Understanding trends and future consequences are easily tracked using PI Notification tools at the facility level. These notifications are used for real-time monitoring, e-mail alerts, compliance requirements, and chemical-inventory reorder processing.

No. 2. CRO distractions are numerous and having the ability to reduce them is always a challenge. During the course of any major operational evolution—such as plant startup or shutdown—the ability to focus on the task at hand is extremely important. One of the requirements in any control room is log-keeping. For several years, the facility has used an electronic program called eLogger for this purpose, but entries in the database still required manual input.

In an effort to further reduce operator distractions, a new eLogger log-entry automation tool was developed, tested, and implemented by staff. The PI database was interfaced to the e-logger application, providing PI-generated log entries for key plant and equipment status changes, greatly reducing the amount of manual log entry required by employees.

Automating logging events is an extremely effective solution for removing distractions, yet still accomplish the record keeping needs of the facility. Automatic logging was setup for conditions such as blower or pump starts/stops, turbine starts/stops, etc.


No. 1. Newington personnel now are better tuned-in to operational and equipment status—including feed-pump bearing trends, voltage schedule and Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR)/Power System Stabilizer (PSS) status as required by VAR-002 requirements, chemical inventories for automatic notifications to chemical suppliers, breaker motor and cycle counters for equipment monitoring and forced megawatt oscillations. This allows multiple key personnel to be aware of conditions in the facility and increases the efficiency of many otherwise manual tasks.

Newington personnel created all PI Notifications based upon input from the operations manager on needed awareness tools. Several different notification categories were created, as noted above. Notification and alert levels were set up to track initial concerns and then, if necessary, any communication requirements based upon the condition.

No. 2. Using PI to communicate automatically with the eLogger database allows for a reduction in the hundreds of otherwise distracting manual logging tasks required by the operations staff. This drives better focus on the control system for operations to perform critical tasks while still completing certain required log-keeping “behind the scenes.”

A plant employee designed and constructed the application necessary to allow the PI and eLogger databases to communicate continuously. The application monitors numerous PI tags for state changes then passes the event to eLogger, where a log entry is automatically generated.


No. 1. Currently, 10 notification elements are used by PI. Some look at real-time statistics, others at trends and future objectives necessary for compliance and equipment protection. To date, several notification e-mails have been used. They provide excellent awareness to plant conditions. Daily automated e-mails to the facility’s boiler chemical provider from PI allow for automatic reorder tracking and awareness, eliminating the need for phone calls or e-mails to order chemicals.

No. 2. There are currently over 60 different PI tags communicating with eLogger and recording as necessary. This list will be expanded continually based on need and efficiencies following input from others. Improved focus and attention on the control boards has been accomplished with reduced manual logging needs.

Both of these PI tools have proven extremely successful at Newington. Each has its unique success stories, but both ultimately provide excellent efficiency and awareness improvements to the site. Improving facility situational awareness and focus while reducing the many inherent distractions, and otherwise manual processes, is always a benefit. CCJ

Project participants:
Joshua Leighton
Tyler Engelhardt

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