We Energies, Wolverine do deal to save Presque Isle coal plant

We Energies and Wolverine Power Cooperative will pursue joint ownership and the addition of state-of-the-art emission controls at the coal-fired Presque Isle plant in Marquette, Mich., the companies said Nov. 27. 

The two companies have signed a definitive agreement in which Wolverine will acquire a minority interest in the facility by funding and constructing the air quality control additions. The facility was facing the prospect of being shut if no emissions controls are installed.

“Wolverine is excited to invest in Michigan to secure power supply for our members and protect grid reliability in northern Michigan,” said Eric Baker, president and CEO of Wolverine. “We are pleased to have a quality operating partner in We Energies that shares our desire to install state-of-the-art environmental systems at the Presque Isle Power Plant that meet new air quality requirements.”

“We look forward to working with Wolverine,” said Allen Leverett, executive vice president of We Energies. “Presque Isle is important to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and we have developed a life extension option that is the most economic and timely solution.”

“This exciting partnership is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to move Michigan forward,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. “The agreement between We Energies and Wolverine Power Cooperative provides environmental and economic benefits to the entire region. The cleaner air emissions resulting from Wolverine’s significant investment enhances our environmental quality. The agreement also preserves much-needed jobs in the community and protects consumers throughout the region by ensuring greater energy reliability.”

Over the past few months, the two companies studied the practicality of retrofitting the facility’s five units and have developed a cost-effective solution to meet air quality requirements while maintaining system reliability. Wolverine will invest $130m to $140m to retrofit the facility’s units to meet expected environmental regulations. We Energies and its employees will continue to operate the plant as well as the air quality control system.

The structure of the proposed joint venture as well as the unnamed air quality control equipment to be installed will require a number of approvals from state and federal agencies, including the Michigan and Wisconsin Public Service Commissions, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Presque Isle, located along the shore of Lake Superior, consists of five coal-fueled units capable of generating about 344 MW. The units were built between 1974 and 1979.

Wolverine is a generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Cadillac, Mich. It supplies power to five distribution electric cooperatives and two Alternative Electric Suppliers in the Lower Peninsula.

We Energies serves more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and more than 1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. We Energies is the trade name of Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and Wisconsin Gas LLC, the principal utility subsidiaries of Wisconsin Energy Corp. (NYSE: WEC).

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.