How can Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) cope with the projected demand for 400 to 500 megawatts of additional electricity by 2019?
Third Natural Gas Turbine At Fox Energy Center
WPS Corporation wants to add a 400-megawatt natural gas-fired electricity generator – the third natural gas turbine at the Fox Energy Center in Kaukauna Town between Appleton and De Pere. And in January, the Green Bay-based utility company would apply to the state Public Service Commission for approval of the proposed additional power plant. If approved, construction could begin in spring 2016 which would create as many as 400 construction jobs plus 10 full-time jobs in the plant, with a target completion date of 2019.
Dual-Fuel Generating Facility
Fox Energy Center is a 593-megawatt dual-fuel generating facility equipped to use fuel oil but designed to run primarily on natural gas. This facility was chosen by the WPS as the preferred site for the proposed 500-megawatt natural gas combined-cycle generating unit that would meet future customer needs for electricity.
Buy Power Or Build A New Plant
With the projected need for additional capacity and energy by the year 2019, WPS considered two options to meet that energy demand. One option is to buy power from another supplier, and the other option is to build an additional generating unit.
The Preferred Site
The selection of Fox Energy Center was the result of feasibility studies by the institution that manages the region’s electric grid, MidContinent Independent System Operator and the facility’s proximity to natural gas pipelines, among other factors. And more importantly, it was an economic-driven decision, according to WPS Vice President for Energy Supply, Paul Spicer.
Advantages Of Fox Energy Center
In terms of achieving economies of scale, the Fox Energy Center is the perfect site for many reasons including:
- Being near to natural gas and water
- Good access to the electric transmission system
- Being home to a natural gas-fired power plant with a similar design
New Plant Instead Of Upgrading Existing Coal-Fired Plants
Building the additional 400-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas turbine would cost approximately $550 million. While WPS operates some coal-fired plants in Green Bay and Wausau, the company deemed it would rather take the plants out of service than spend millions of dollars for the upgrade in light of the increasingly stringent environmental regulations enforced and implemented by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Benefits Of Adding A New Electricity Generator
Locating and building a new generator at Fox Energy Center, which already has two operating generators that produce 600 megawatts together, would certainly provide numerous benefits such as:
- operational efficiencies – the company would only need to add a few new workers to the existing workforce;
- ownership of the facility which would allow the company to have more control on costs;
- existing infrastructure – with cooling water and transmission facilities already set up and in place, WPS will only have to build and construct the area for the gas turbine bolted and secured in place using bolts, nuts and 304 stainless steel standard washers, additional screws and other fastening hardware and tools; and
- strengthening and stabilizing of the power grid considering that the facilities in Green Bay, Wausau, Sheboygan and Kewaunee have been lost.
Electricity For 300,000 Homes
Electricity is provided and supplied to 445,000 customers in Northeastern and north-central Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by the WPS Corp. The additional power plant will have the capacity to generate 400 megawatts of electricity which would ultimately allow the entire plant to generate 1,000 megawatts – more than enough to power some 300,000 homes.
Will Fox Energy Center be allowed to add the natural gas turbine?
2 thoughts on “Building A New Power Plant And Shutting Down An Old Coal-Fired Plant”
It was surprising to me to read about a power plant not having enough energy to meet its demands. I had heard of the challenges associated with distributing energy to wide expanses of areas, but I just assumed that energy was unlimited. Could this plant perhaps invest in alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind energy? I know that California has a great source of wind turbines throughout the certain open rural landscape. You couldn’t do that in an area such as New York. Maybe that’s a similar challenge in the great state of Wisconsin.
It seems to me that the future of old coal-fired plants such as this one is being debated as operators look to restart them with natural gas. It may come as a surprise for many people that old U.S. coal-fired power plants, the target of new anti-pollution rules, aren’t necessarily shutting down. Many are getting a second life as they’re “repowered” with natural gas. Decisions to keep running these plantswhich are often more than 40 years oldhave sparked court battles in New York and other states and are raising questions about how much should be done to retain legacy fossil-fuel facilities.
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