The Belleville Municipal Power Plant is headed by Electric Services Director Duane Vanous, and employs one additional operators. Power Plant employees are trained to operate and maintain the engines and all other machinery related to the production of electricity. The Power Plant is manned from 8 am to 5 pm during the week, but employees are on call incase of a power outage after hours.
Engines at the Belleville Power Plant
Unit # Year Fuel Rating Manuf. Status
Engine #1 1947 Dual Fuel 600 kw Enterprise Retired
Engine #2 1947 Dual Fuel 600 kw Enterprise Retired
Engine #3 1946 Dual Fuel 300 kw Enterprise Retired
Engine #4 1955 Dual Fuel 1000 kw Enterprise In Service
Engine #5 1961 Dual Fuel 1750 kw Enterprise In Service
Engine #6 1966 Dual Fuel 3750 kw Enterprise In Service
Engine #7 1971 Dual Fuel 5125 kw Enterprise In Service
Engine #8 2005 Diesel 2800 kw G.M. EMD In Service
You may reach the Belleville Power Plant at 785.527.2141.
History of the Belleville Municipal Power Plant
The first power plant consisted of two vertical, oil fired boilers, two chuse steam engines, belted to two 75 kw alternators. Within the next few years, the city experienced the usual troubles inherent in early efforts at electric production and by early 1912 a serious decision had to be made, either continue producing electricity at a sizeable loss, even with a 15 cent per kilo watt flat rate, or change to another type of power which was then very new, the “oil engine”.
The decision, to purchase the oil engine, was soon made and the next three years of operation proved the advisability of that decision. The 170 hp Model A Busch-Sulzer diesel, using the same fuel which was being used for the boilers, saved enough money through its superior efficiency to enable the city to pay off the steam plant deficit and reduce rates.
With this experience behind them, it was no problem for the city fathers to decide, in late 1915, what type of power plant equipment they were goint to purchase to supplement their three year old oil engine. They purchased a 225 hp Model B Busch-Sulzer diesel and diposed of the steam equipment. Continual rate reduction and high efficiencies, by 1923, had caused the need for more capacity at the power plant, so another 250 hp Busch-Sulzer diesel was purchased, thus bringing the total capacity to 445 kw.
By 1929 the load had again reached the point wher more power was neccessary and the decision was still 100% in favor of the diesel engine, but it was decided to purchase another make of engine. This time it was a 550 hp, 375 kw De La Vergne diesel, with the 17 year old original engine being removed to permit installation of the fourth diesel engine in its place.
By the end of World War II, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the City of Belleville needed more capacity in its power plant. The 700 kw capacity of 1929 was in a bad way. Early in 1946, the governing body of the city began investigations of possible delivery of additional power for their plant. During these investigations, it was decided that sufficient progress had been made in added efficiencies to warrant another drastic change in the power plant equipment of Belleville, so a complete new power plant was built and three modern diesel engines were installed. At the time, considerable discussion was had with the manufacturer regarding the possibility of conversion of these engines to dual fuel operations. (new dual fuel engines wer not yet available)
This 1946 installation consisted of one 450 hp, 350 kw and two 860 hp, 600 kw Enterprise diesels, which have long since been converted to dual fuel operation. These are now Engine #3 and Engines #1 and #2. It was again evident, by late 1954, that the 1946 capacity of 1,500 kw (exactly 10 times the original power plant capacity), was no longer sufficient, so another Enterprixe engine was purchased. This time it was a 1,455 hp, 1000 kw unit, bringing the 1955 capacity to 2,500 kw.
Throughout the next 20 years, the City of Belleville’s demand for electricity increased, even as the population decreased. Three new engines were added during this time. Along with new engines came additions to the power plant to house them. In 1961 a new 1,750 kw dual fuel Enterprise engine was added. A 3,750 kw dual fuel Enterprise was added in 1966, along with a 5,125 kw dual fuel Enterprise in 1971.
The City of Belleville produced 100% of the electricity used by citizens during this time. The engines at Belleville’s Power Plant ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week for over 80 years. It wasn’t until 1989 that a 34,500 volt tie line was built from Nebraska to belleville, which would supply the City with more reliable, cheaper power. The engines now would only be operated during emergencies and peak loads during the summer.
By the beginning of the 21st century, the city fathers once again had a major decision regarding the fate of the power plant; either shut down the aging facility, or commit to the updating and improvements the plant needed to become a reliable and affordable plant again. The decided to invest in the power plant and reach a capacity of 10,000 kw (10 mw) by retiring some of the smaller engines and adding another. This would allow the City to enter into and agreement with the Nebraska Public Power District for generation. New cooling towers were installed to cool all the engines. The plant was added onto yet again to house a new 2,800 kw General Motors EMD diesel engine (engine #8). Engines number five through number eight were automated, making start up and running much easier and efficient. (engines #1 through #3 were retired, while engine #4 is stand alone.) In 2009, the tie line from Nebraska to Belleville was upgraded to 69,000 volts.
Excerpts from Diesel Progress, 1955