Owensboro Municipal Utilities, OMU, is the largest municipal electric system in Kentucky. The Elmer Smith Power Station, with two coal-fired boilers, is servicing over 26,000 customerowners with reliable electricity. OMU was challenged to solve a serious problem concerning plant emissions and additionally required flexibility to effectively and economically adapt to the ever-changing energy landscape.


OMU was one of the early adopters of GE’s suite of Operations Optimization software when they installed the boiler optimization package, part of the Operation Optimizations product suite, in the 2003-2005 time frame. By integrating the two components for combustion and sootblowing optimization, the software works in real-time to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve heat rate as well as soot blowing by manipulating controls related to fuel and air mixing, as well as the soot blower sequences to designate which blowers to blow at which time.


As a result of the solution, OMU has reduced emissions, with NOx benefits of 10-17%, reduced heat rate by 0.5% and due to more efficient maintenance options, has significantly reduced outages related to issues like tube ruptures. Consistent combustion parameters are also being maintained, helping other systems such as Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) equipment better perform its job at a lesser cost (i.e. with less ammonia consumption). OMU’s evolving objective is a simple one: to continually set new standards in coal power. By forming a strategic partnership with GE in showcasing the Digital Power Plant, it demonstrates a shared vision for an analytic strategy to improve asset performance and operations efficiency, resulting in unprecedented enterprise business outcomes.