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24 hours in Lawrence

Westar employees keep power flowing

May 22, 2007

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3 questions with Giovanni Acabal and Karla Guerrero

3 questions with Giovanni Acabal and Karla Guerrero, Westar Energy Auxiliary Equipment Operators. Enlarge video

Like it or not, it's an essential part of our morning routine: the buzz of an alarm clock, the glow of a bedside lamp and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Conveniences brought to households by the Lawrence Energy Center.

"It's the lifeblood of the economy. It powers everything," says Giovanni Acabal, auxiliary equipment operator for Westar Energy. "We need electricity for businesses and manufacturing, and we are very proud working here to provide the service to them."

As Lawrence wakes up, Acabal and fellow operator Karla Guerrero report for their 12-hour shifts at 6 a.m. As their first rounds begin, they each don a hard hat, protective glasses and ear plugs in preparation for the earth-shaking rumble of the behemoth machines they're about to inspect.

"I'm in the basement on unit three and four. That's with all the pumps, fans and so on. It's very noisy and very hot down there," Guerrero says.

They look, listen and touch the plant's turbines, coal mills and boilers to find any malfunctions. At 7:15 a.m. on this day, unit five, the largest of the three units, cranks out 256 megawatts of energy per hour. On an average day, it will reach 380 megawatts of its 400-megawatt capacity.

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