Ground broken on emissions project for coal-fired Weston Unit 3

Groundbreaking was held Oct. 3 on the construction of an emission control system at Wisconsin Public Service’s (WPS) 321-MW Weston 3 coal-fired unit near Wausau, Wisc.

WPS and Hamon Research-Cottrell (HRC) will design, construct and install the new, multi-pollutant control system at Weston Unit 3 using Regenerative Activated Coke Technology, or ReACT. URS Corp. was selected to support WPS by providing additional engineering and the site construction management team.

The initial announcement of the project was in May 2012 and the project was approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in April.

“We’re eager to get started on construction of the project,” said WPS President Charles Cloninger in an Oct. 3 statement. “This will ensure the viability of Unit 3 to help serve our electric customers well into the future.”

The ReACT installation is the first commercial application of this technology in the U.S. It has been successfully used in Japan for many years.

“This single system is designed to significantly remove sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and other emissions from the power plant’s exhaust flow,” said Cloninger, “eliminating the need to build separate control systems for each individual emission.”

The project is expected to be operating by the end of 2016. Weston Unit 3 began operations in 1981 and is fueled by low-sulfur Powder River Basin coal from Wyoming.

The Weston site has four coal-fueled units, two combustion turbines, a substation and fuel supply systems located on 345 acres in the Villages of Kronenwetter and Rothschild in Marathon County in central Wisconsin, about 7 miles south of the City of Wausau.

WPS notified the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin on Sept. 20 that the ReACT emissions project will likely exceed the 5% cost increase notification requirement set by the commission in approving this project on April 12. The approved ReACT project cost, excluding AFUDC, was $275m, making the 5% cost increase notification cap $288.8m. “WPSC remains fully committed to the project and continues to have a high degree of confidence in the feasibility of the ReACT multi-pollutant control technology,” said the heavily-redacted Sept. 20 letter.

One factor in the cost increases is that the ReACT system construction bid received by HRC was high and HRC has re-bid the construction component. The re-bidding process is not yet complete. Due to the construction re-bidding, WPSC said it has rescheduled the outage of Weston Unit 3 for ReACT installation from fourth quarter 2015 to first quarter 2016.

In the base case used in the commission docket, the ReACT project was $124m less costly on a present value revenue requirements basis than installing flue gas desulfurization (FGD)/selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology on Weston 3, the utility noted. Holding all else equal, the ReACT project’s capital cost would have to increase by $139m relative to the original estimate of $275m before the project’s economics become comparable to the FGD/SCR option, the utility added.

Over the objections of some parties, the commission on April 12 approved the application by WPSC to install the ReACT multi-pollutant control system on the coal-fired Weston Unit 3. WPSC had estimated that the cost of ReACT project construction is $275m, excluding allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC). The AFUDC associated with the project would be $41m.

WPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group (NYSE: TEG) and is an investor-owned electric and natural gas utility headquartered in Green Bay, Wisc. It serves approximately 441,000 electric customers and 319,000 natural gas customers in residential, agricultural, industrial, and commercial markets. It also provides electric power to wholesale customers. The company’s service area includes northeastern Wisconsin and an adjacent portion of Upper Michigan.

Hamon Research-Cottrell is a leading provider of air pollution control technology in the United States, having been active for many years in the supply and installation of systems for control of particulate and acid gas emissions. It is part of the Hamon Group of companies, headquartered in Mont-St-Guibert, Belgium.

URS Corp. is a leading provider of engineering, construction and technical services for public agencies and private sector companies around the world.

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.