Consumers Energy readies application for 150-MW wind farm

Consumers Energy included a couple of renewable energy projects in a Power Supply Cost Recovery plan filed Sept. 28 at the Michigan Public Service Commission that have not been approved yet by the commission.

These are company-owned resources that include:

  • Consumers Energy is in the process of planning for the construction of the Cross Winds Energy Park with approximately 150 MW of capacity scheduled to begin operation in late 2014 or 2015. “We anticipate submitting the wind turbine supply, the engineering, procurement and construction, and the transformer procurement contracts for Commission approval in 2012 or 2013,” wrote David Ronk Jr., Director for Electric Transactions and Resource Planning at Consumers; and
  • The company is in the process of expanding the Experimental Advanced Renewable Program adding about 3.25 MW of solar powered generating systems between 2012 and 2015.

In his testimony, Ronk was asked whether Consumers Energy will have any generation resources designated for Black Start service in 2013. He noted that in October 2010, the company temporarily removed Thetford Units 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 as well as Weadock Unit A and Whiting Unit A from service for a three-year period which will end Oct. 14, 2013. These are combustion turbine (CT) units.

On Aug. 1, 2011, the company advised the Midwest ISO that the Thetford Units 3, 4, 8 and 9 would be removed from service effective Feb. 1, 2012. In its May 11, 2012, response approving removal of Thetford Units 3, 4, 8 and 9 from service, MISO noted that these units were part of Michigan Electric Transmission Co.’s (METC) system restoration plan and referred the matter to METC. METC and Consumers Energy have been negotiating an agreement that may keep one or more units in service for an undetermined period of time.

“The Company is in the process of evaluating whether other, currently mothballed, units could be designated for Black Start service after they are brought back into service in lieu of maintaining Thetford units 8 & 9 for Black Start service,” Ronk added. “For purposes of this filing, however, the Company assumes that Thetford 4, 5, 8 & 9 units will be included in the METC Black Start plan. The Company should be compensated for the costs incurred in maintaining black start service capability; however, no agreement exists at this time.”

Black start service is the process of restoring generation resources without relying on the external power network. Generating units using steam turbines require station service power of up to 10% of their capacity for boiler feedwater pumps, boiler forced draft combustion air blowers and fuel preparation, Ronk noted. It is uneconomical to provide such a large standby capacity at each station, so black-start power must be provided over designated tie lines from another station. To provide a black start, some generation facilities have small diesel generators which can be used to start larger generators, which then can be used to start the main power station generators.

Previously, Consumers Energy temporarily removed Thetford Units 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7 as well as Weadock Unit A and Whiting Unit A from service until Oct. 14, 2013. The company is in the process of evaluating whether some of these units should be returned to service. For purposes of the Sept. 28 PSCR filing, however, the company assumes that all of these units will be retired from service.

In August 2011, Consumers Energy filed a request with Midwest ISO to mothball the following CTs:

  • Campbell A;
  • Gaylord 1-4;
  • Morrow A and B;
  • Thetford 3, 4, 8 and 9; and
  • Straits.

Midwest ISO approved the request to mothball Morrow A and B and Campbell A effective Feb. 15, 2012. Thetford 3, 4, 8 and 9 were approved for mothball status effective May 14, 2012. Midwest ISO rejected the company’s request to mothball Gaylord 1-4 and Straits. The company is currently in negotiations with the Midwest ISO to determine how the needs of all parties can be met and anticipates an agreement to be reached sometime in late 2012, wrote David Kehoe, Director of Staff, Electric Generation at Consumers.

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.