In July 2002 I took a week off to visit Dixon, Ann Arbor, and Parma. The visit to Dixon was somewhat a busman's holiday perhaps...this is the sign at the entrance to the Duke Energy power plant east of Dixon near Nachusa (closeup).
This is a zoomed view from the same spot. The blue and white turbine building behind the cooling tower houses the gas and steam turbines; on this project there is one steam turbine for each HRSG. Each train (GE 7FA gas turbine/HRSG/steam turbine) is rated at 275 MW, the nominal total plant rating is 1160 MW. Just to the right of the large crane, the steam drums are visible atop one of the HRSG's.
This project was owned at the time by NRG Energy (the independent arm of Xcel Energy, a power utility in the upper Midwest). NEPCO, the design and construction firm owned by Enron, was the engineering contractor, and PCL of Edmonton, Alberta, was the prime construction contractor. The project and permits have been bought and sold more than once; this project was one of several that NRG bought from LS Power in November 2000.
The view at right is looking northwest from the gas turbine side of the plant. The turbine building is somewhat "M" shaped in plan, as you can see from the artist's conception of the completed plant (below, from the PCL web site). Construction started in May, 2001, at the time completion was scheduled for July, 2003, with a peak work force of 800 people.
Update #1...in mid-September 2002, construction was suspended on this and other NRG projects due to cash flow problems.
Update #2...in August 2004 the project, once valued at over $300 million, was sold by then-bankrupt NRG to Invenergy LLC at the fire-sale price of $19.5 million. Invenergy was evaluating the completion of the first two units (which they rate at 290 MW each) and the sale or relocation of the remaining plant equipment.
Update #3...in June 2007 Fluor (my current employer) officially announced a contract for engineering, procurement, and construction of a 570-megawatt combined cycle plant, the St. Clair Energy Centre, near Sarnia, Ontario. Here's a Fluor press release on the project and the 2006 Invenergy environmental impact statement on the project. What isn't mentioned in these two items is that two of the 1-on-1 combined cycle units for this project are being relocated from the Nelson site. What will be left near Dixon? Plans are moving forward for completion of the first 2 units along with a methanol plant. Here's an April 2007 [Sterling] Daily Gazette article. Below, an aerial view of the Nelson site from the Invenergy project page.
Other bits of trivia...NRG also bought the Audrain County, Missouri power plant from Duke Energy in 2001. Audrain, located 90 miles south of St. Louis, is a near-twin of the Lee County plant and was built at the same time. Audrain was sold to a subsidiary of Ameren Corporation, a St. Louis-based electrical utility, in April 2006 for $115 million (of which only $20 million went to NRG). And Invenergy also now owns the mothballed Grays Harbor, Washington combined cycle site which they purchased from Duke Energy (note that in May 2007 they obtained financing to complete Grays Harbor (Invenergy press release)). But Duke still owns the Lee County peaker as of mid-2007.