KANSAS CITY, Missouri — NorthWestern Energy is adding dispatchable capacity to its portfolio through a 175-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired RICE plant, the Laurel Generation Station, near Laurel, Montana. Burns & McDonnell was selected as the EPC contractor based on its solid EPC reputation within the reciprocating engine market. The reciprocating internal combustion engine (RICE) units will be supplied by Caterpillar Inc.
Reliable and efficient, the 18 Caterpillar RICE units will support NorthWestern Energy’s renewable portfolio growth. The units can ramp up quickly with multiple starts and stops daily, and can provide on-demand power, flexible capacity, baseload power and regulation services with reduced emissions. Burns & McDonnell will self-perform the construction of the facility and the installation of the generator sets. AZCO, part of the Burns & McDonnell family of companies, will perform the mechanical and electrical work.
“We’re proud to be part of this 175-MW RICE project with NorthWestern Energy,” says Brian Elwell, EPC project director for the reciprocating engine business unit at Burns & McDonnell. “The flexibility and on-demand power will add reliability as NorthWestern Energy integrates additional renewable energy into its generation portfolio. We are pleased to be selected for a project from what was a very competitive solicitation process.”
The added capacity will address some of NorthWestern Energy’s capacity deficit in its portfolio serving Montana customers, providing reliability for customers while decreasing risks associated with market volatility and the potential lack of availability. Reliability concerns are increasing, especially during extreme weather conditions, as more regional coal plants are closing and additional solar and wind generation are added to the grid.
“This flexible capacity resource, selected through a competitive process, is capable of generating energy for long durations when needed, including multiple days of severe weather, times of high-energy demand and when market prices are high,” said NorthWestern Energy Vice President Energy Supply and Montana Government Relations John Hines. “It is the best resource for our Montana customers at a cost-effective price.”
Cat® G20CM34 generator sets offer the responsive and affordable capacity needed to balance the intermittent energy supply from renewable resources. Additionally, Caterpillar has extensive experience helping EPC firms to prepare competitive estimates, meet project milestones, and ultimately deliver compelling returns on investment for large, complex construction projects.
“The Cat G20CM34 generator set’s best-in-class performance and low-cost operation make it ideal for NorthWestern Energy’s new facility in Laurel, which will represent the largest installed capacity provided by Caterpillar for a natural gas-fired power plant anywhere in the world,” said Claudio Martino, Caterpillar’s sales manager for medium-speed reciprocating technology in the Americas. “The combination of Burns & McDonnell’s project expertise and Caterpillar’s highly efficient power solutions will provide lasting benefits to NorthWestern Energy’s customer base for decades to come.”
About Burns & McDonnell
Burns & McDonnell is a family of companies bringing together an unmatched team of 7,600 engineers, construction professionals, architects, planners, technologists and scientists to design and build our critical infrastructure. With an integrated construction and design mindset, we offer full-service capabilities with more than 60 offices globally. Founded in 1898, Burns & McDonnell is 100% employee-owned. Learn how we are designed to build.
With 2020 sales and revenues of $41.7 billion, Caterpillar Inc. is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives. Since 1925, we’ve been driving sustainable progress and helping customers build a better world through innovative products and services. We do business on every continent, principally operating through three primary segments — Construction Industries, Resource Industries, and Energy & Transportation — and providing financing and related services through our Financial Products segment. For more information, visit caterpillar.com.
About NorthWestern Energy
NorthWestern provides electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 743,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. We have generated and distributed electricity in South Dakota and distributed natural gas in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and have generated and distributed electricity and distributed natural gas in Montana since 2002. More information on NorthWestern is available on the company’s website at www.northwesternenergy.com.