Dave, I can only reply to what I know, and that is with regard to the power situation. Snow reports and the KMR website public relations are way out of my pay grade. I know that planning for the route and financing agreements to bring outside power to Kirkwood are in an advanced stage and involve many stakeholders along the 88 corridor, environmental concerns, Cal Trans, forest service and an alphabet soup of California agencies. I'm sure the California real estate situation has taken a lot of money off the table, that the resort had hoped to use to bring power from Peddler Hill, but as far as I know, that remains the goal. Even with outside power, emergency standby power will be important for this remote location. As if Kirkwood Utilities is the only place that experiences outages, I recall much of El Dorado County was without power for up to a week following a December storm.
Kirkwood Mountain Utilities has worked diligently to upgrade generators at the powerhouse. It was one of the newest units that was required to have a particulate filter that actually caused this incident. California has required all replacement stationary engines to be certified Tier II emissions compliant, and in addition required that (beginning in 2005) they have diesel particulate filters (DPFs) that reduce particulate by at least 90%. DPFs are a relatively new technology, and can reduce particulate soot and hydrocarbons by 90%. Unfortunately, they are an evolving technology, and can have significant safety concerns. You may be aware that Ford recalled all 2007 super duty diesels because of fires. My personal view is that we need to carefully review this incident and study whether the altitude and cold contributed to the fire, and how this can be safely implemented at a place like Kirkwood.
The facts are that in 2005, two D399 engines were replaced with one D3516 resulting in a slight increase in net power capacity from 4.8mW to 5.35mW. The DPF on that 3516 burned in early 2006 and in summer 2006, that 3516 and DPF were replaced by Caterpillar. Also a new Caterpillar C32 (800kW) generator set with DPF was installed, replacing another D399 and a portable trailer mounted D3516 which had operated intermittently to provide emergency power. This summer we permitted a new Cummins QSK50 800 kW unit which was in the process of being installed when this fire apparently propagated from a DPF, and destroyed all six engines. Last month another D399 twisted a crank and failed. So at the time of the fire there was a 2006 D3516, 2007 C32, 2009 Cummins (not installed), and two surviving D399s that were destroyed. Power is now being provided by three Cat-in a-Box generators, basically trailer mounted D3516s.
Most people are not aware of many of the facts, and would be bored to tears to read what has been going on. Others may attribute ulterior motives to what has been a large outlay of cash to upgrade the power facilities. The fact is, the upgrades have been happening, alongside of efforts to bring in grid power. People are understandably upset, and pointing fingers for this incredibly badly timed disruption. I know people at the resort that have been going over 60 hours without sleep to get back online and save part of the ski weekend, and normalize operations going forward. The power plant burned on January 1. Who the hell answers the phone on January 1? Did I say phones? There were no phones. The resort was completely cut off. I think its just incredible what has been accomplished as of this morning (January 3).
At 2:00 today, I heard the cheers as chair #6 turned. Some internet talk has accused the resort of misleading or deceptiveness. I don't see it. In a very fast developing situation beginning at 2:00 Friday, through 2:00 today, during a holiday weekend, these guys have reconstructed from the ground, a power plant, control system and gotten the resort operational. That is an amazing accomplishment.
Edited by Cirquerider - 1/3/10 at 5:17pm