Hennepin Power Plant Fire Forces Unit 2 Off

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Hennepin, Granville and other Putnam County fire departments were called to Dynegy Hennepin Power Station just before 11 a.m. today after reports of a “big fire” in the transformer yard or switch yard.

No injuries were reported, but the transformer fire forced the plant to shut down Unit 2 of the two-unit power generating station, said Katy Sullivan, public relations for Dynegy in Houston, Texas.

Sullivan said the transformer that burned caught fire in the transformer yard, where energy from the generating unit is connected to the grid or transmission system.

“We’ll do an investigation into the cause of the fire,” Sullivan said, adding that there were no injuries. She said she was not aware as of noon whether there’s additional damage to the power plant.

“At this point, our focus is to make sure the fire is completely extinguished,” Sullivan said.

Seen and heard

Smoke and noise from the fire could be seen and heard more a mile or more away, said Shelly Zywica, who lives across the street from LakeDePue on the other side of the Illinois River from the power plant.

“I was in my kitchen and all I could see was thick black smoke coming up from behind the trees,” Zywica said.

She said at one point she heard a pop and a boom, then a sound somewhat like a whale exhaling, only quite amplified. Then the sound was gone and eventually the smoke color changed from black to gray.

“It sounded like when you light a propane torch, only times that by 10,000,” she said.

Before noon, smoke no longer was visible, and by 12:20 p.m., firefighters were heading back to their fire stations.


Unit 2 at the plant has a capacity of 215 megawatts, so theoretically on a hot day with high demand from air conditioning use. Each megawatt can power 700-800 homes, so that unit can generate enough electricity to power more than 150,500 homes.

Unit 1 is smaller, with a 70-megawatt capacity, Sullivan said.

Source: News Tribune