Wisconsin Power and Light lays out plans for coal retrofits, retirements

Wisconsin Power and Light (WPL), a subsidiary of Alliant Energy (NYSE:LNT), said July 27 that its energy plans for the future include the purchase of the gas-fired Riverside Energy Center and new emissions controls for the coal-fired Edgewater Unit 5 and Columbia Units 1-2.

“The plan calls for investing more than $1.4 billion in WPL’s generating fleet over the next five years,” said John Larsen, President-WPL. “It provides a cleaner generation fleet that provides flexibility to ensure WPL can manage current and emerging environmental regulations. It also allows us to better manage cost impacts to customers while meeting their energy needs in a safe and reliable manner. We’re able to do this through a combination of investments in our generating fleet as well as some unit retirements.”

The plan is to install environmental controls on newer, larger and most efficient generating units to comply with existing and currently proposed state and federal environmental rules. These emission control plans allow WPL to continue meeting customers’ needs in an environmentally responsible manner now and into the future. Generation investments include:

  • purchase of the Riverside Energy Center, a 600-MW combined-cycle natural gas facility in Beloit, Wisc., from Calpine (NYSE: CPN) by the end of 2012;
  • filing for approval of additional emission controls for Edgewater Unit 5; and
  • constructing emissions controls at Columbia Units 1 and 2 and Edgewater Unit 5.

WPL on July 27 filed a construction application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for authority to install a scrubber/baghouse system to reduce SO2 emissions from Edgewater Unit 5 to support compliance with the currently stayed Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) or its replacement. Upon its completion, SO2 emissions from Unit 5 are expected to be reduced by about 90% per year from current levels. WPL expects a decision from the PSCW by the second quarter of 2013. If approved, construction on the $390m to $430m project is expected to begin in 2014 and be completed in 2016.

Emissions control work currently underway includes:

  • WPL is constructing a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) NOx reduction system on Edgewater Unit 5. The approximately $153m SCR will be completed by the end of 2012. NOx emissions from Unit 5 are expected to be reduced by about 75% per year from current levels to comply with Wisconsin’s Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) Phase II requirements and CSAPR or its replacement.
  • WPL is constructing SO2 and mercury reduction systems at Columbia Units 1 and 2 (scrubbers and baghouse/carbon injection systems). WPL’s share of the project cost is about $300m. These systems will be completed in 2014. SO2 and mercury emissions from Columbia are expected to be reduced about 90% per year. The emission reductions support compliance with the CSAPR or its replacement and both state and federal mercury rules.

Three coal units to be retired, one may retire or be converted to gas

WPL has three generating units that have been in service for more than 50 years. WPL is planning an orderly retirement of these three oldest and smallest coal units by the end of 2015. They are: Nelson Dewey Units 1-2, located in Cassville, Wisc., which total about 200 MW; and Edgewater Unit 3, located in Sheboygan, Wisc., which is around 60 MW.

WPL will also decide between repowering to natural gas or retiring Edgewater Unit 4 by the end of 2018. It is about 330 MW in size and co-owned with Wisconsin Public Service Corp. (WPS).

WPL will work with the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) to determine the final timing of these retirements and possible fuel switch.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.