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Energy Choices in the New England Region and Beyond


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Mt. Tom
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Mt. Tom Mt. Tom Power Plant

The Mt. Tom Power Plant is situated on an 80-acre tract of scenic woodland lying between Mt. Tom and an S-curve in the Connecticut River, a few miles north of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Remote from urban or industrial development, it seems an unlikely location for a power plant, but in this instance appearances are deceiving.

The location has important advantages. It is convenient both to railroad lines, over which fuel for the plant is brought in, and to transmission lines, over which the power generated by the plant is dispatched throughout the region. The Connecticut River provides make-up water for the plant's steam cycle. Approximately 1.1 million pounds of high pressure steam per hour passes through the steam turbine and is condensed back into water to repeat the cycle. The river also easily provides the 90,000 gallons of cooling water pumped every minute through the condenser and back into the river, warmer than before but harmless to the environment.

A distinctive feature of the Mt. Tom plant is its "outdoor" boiler structure, an all-weather design representing a considerable cost saving through the elimination of conventional outer walls. The 163-foot high (13 story) boiler section is encased only by its structural steel framework. Less obvious is the elevation of the plant site and all major equipment to a level well above that reached by the river in the flood of 1936, when the utility's Riverside Station was flooded as 16.8 feet of water passed over the dam in Holyoke.

The Mt. Tom Power Plant went into service in 1960 as a coal-fired unit. In 1970, because of new air quality regulations and for reasons of economy, the plant was converted to burn oil. In 1981, because of the uncertainty of oil supplies, as well as oil's escalating price, Mt. Tom was converted back to coal. New state-of-the-art pollution control equipment has been installed to meet current environmental regulations.

Mt. Tom burns about 1,200 tons of coal daily and has on-site storage space for about 150,000 tons. Coal is delivered by rail cars, which arrive at the station in 80-car trains. The generating capacity of 146,000 kilowatts is enough to meet the electrical demand of a city more than twice the size of Holyoke.


Facts and Figures
In Service Date1960
Capacity (MW)* 146
Turbine ManufacturerGeneral Electric
Boiler Manufacturer Riley Stoker
Steam Pressure1800
Steam Temperature 1000
Original FuelCoal
Oil Conversion 1970
Coal Conversion1981
Current Fuel Coal

      *MW (Megawatt) = 1,000kW (kiloWatt)

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