Wolverine takes part in Wisconsin PSC re-look at Presque Isle status

Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative out of Michigan on Nov. 8 asked the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for it to be allowed to intervene in the commission’s re-look at the situation for the coal-fired Presque Isle Power Plant (PIPP) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin commission approved Wisconsin Electric Power (WEPCO) to sell one third of the Presque Isle plant to Wolverine, with Wolverine to in exchange fund the emissions controls needed for the plant to comply with clean-air mandates. But recently, Wisconsin Electric Power lost a major power customer in the region and now may have to close the plant. Wisconsin Electric Power has indicated it would be open to selling all of Presque Isle to Wolverine.

Wolverine is a Michigan-based non-profit generation and transmission electric cooperative that provides wholesale service to its seven members.

Wolverine said in its Nov. 8 intervention request about the commission’s prior approval of the one-third sale and retrofits: “In justifiable reliance thereon, Wolverine expended significant resources and incurred significant financing costs to fund the expected construction of these pollution controls and chose to forego other viable power supply alternatives in favor of joint ownership of PIPP with WEPCO. Now, however, notwithstanding Wolverine’s justifiable reliance, the Commission has reopened its investigation to determine whether the Final Decision in this docket remains appropriate. Any order issued by the Commission in this matter will undeniably affect Wolverine’s interests. Wolverine has an interest in this docket because Wolverine’s transaction with WEPCO may be affected by the Commission’s actions regarding whether the joint ownership of PIPP by WEPCO and Wolverine is consistent with the general public interest.”

The Wisconsin commissiion is taking public comment until Nov. 21 on what it should reconsider related to Presque Isle and its prior approval. On Oct. 28, the commission sent out a notice that it is reopening the docket.

“Since this Commission approved WEPCO’s request, there have been several significant developments,” the commission noted. “WEPCO lost its largest customer, the operator of two iron ore mines, and a significant amount of the load previously supported by PIPP. WEPCO has publicly stated that it has requested authorization from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO), to suspend operation of PIPP beginning in February 2014 unless MISO determines that the plant is needed for reliability. On October 16, 2013, MISO designated PIPP units 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 as System Support Resource units needed for reliability unless an alternative solution can be found. WEPCO has also publicly disclosed that it is reconsidering the joint venture with Wolverine approved by the Commission in this docket. In light of these recent developments, the Commission reopens its investigation in this docket to explore, among other things, whether the Final Decision in this docket remains appropriate.”

Units 1-4 at the plant were retired some time ago. What is left operating are Units 5-9. The plant currently has 431 MW of net capacity with Units 5 and 6 on high-Btu bituminous coal, and 365 MW (net) with Units 5 and 6 on low-Btu subbituminous coal.

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.