Wisconsin Public Service eyes new gas unit at Fox Energy Center

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. (WPS), a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group (NYSE:TEG), said Dec. 18 that it has chosen the Fox Energy Center near Wrightstown, Wisc., as the preferred site for an approximately 500-MW natural gas-fired combined cycle unit.

This is a prospective project, with a decision still to be made if building a generating unit is the best overall option for meeting future customer needs.

Previously, WPS announced that it is forecasting a need for additional energy and capacity beginning in 2019. Its options to meet that need include buying the power from another supplier or adding another generating unit.

Since the lead time to build a unit is several years, WPS must make the decision by the middle of 2014. Fox Energy Center was selected as the preferred site on the basis of feasibility studies by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which manages the electric grid in this region, proximity to natural gas pipelines, as well as other factors.

“Choosing the Fox site was driven by economic considerations,” said Paul Spicer WPS Vice President-Energy Supply. “It is close to natural gas and water, has good access to the electric transmission system, and is already home to a similarly designed natural gas fired plant enabling us to achieve economies of scale.”

While WPS has selected the Fox Energy Center site as its preferred site, it will also issue a request for proposals from other companies that would be interested in meeting the long term electric capacity and energy needs. WPS is planning to begin that RFP process in the second quarter of 2014.

After the bids have been reviewed, WPS will make the decision whether to buy or to build based on customers’ best interests, following which it will make a filing with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The timeline for filing with the Wisconsin commission is late fall 2014.

The Fox Energy Center is located in the Town of Kaukauna in Outagamie County, Wisc. It is a combined-cycle facility now capable of producing 593 MW. WPS agreed to purchase the plant in October 2012 and the transaction was closed on March 28, 2013. Construction of the plant began in November 2002 and it went into commercial operation in December 2005.

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.