Sheer size sets Sherco apart from the company’s other generating facilities. Sherco is the largest in terms of square feet, steam production, power generation capability and coal consumption. Sherco’s boilers are more than 200 feet tall – taller than the dome of the Minnesota State Capitol building. Each boiler weighs about 8 million pounds and contains about 200 miles of steel tubing.
The Unit 3 generation building is more than 15 stories high and the stack, or chimney, extends 650 feet – as tall as some downtown Minneapolis office towers. The plant’s coal barn – longer than a football field – provides dry storage for coal, cutting down on dust and improving coal handling efficiency. A rotary car dumper, which literally turns a rail coal car upside down, unloads one car every three minutes and an entire train in just over six hours.
Unit 3 is 41 percent owned by Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, composed of municipal power companies operating on a cooperative basis.
Sherco reflects the company’s environmental leadership, with its modern and efficient air quality control systems. Unit 3 employs a dry scrubber system, which uses a mist of lime slurry in spray dryers to trap sulfur dioxide (SO2). Units 1 and 2 have wet scrubbers, which use an alkaline spray to capture sulfur dioxide and ash. In addition, Sherco will remove mercury emissions in accordance with the Minnesota Mercury Reduction Act.
Through its plant advisory committee, Sherco leadership works with other community leaders on local issues and economic development efforts. It also provides support for technical programs at the local high school, community college and state university. In addition, Sherco supports local fire departments with training, safety gear, and equipment, and many employees serve as volunteer fire fighters in seven communities in the region. Employees also give in other ways, delivering meals, giving blood, building homes and raising money for United Way. Also, every year since 1992, Sherco employees have joined other volunteers in a Mississippi River cleanup day.
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