MISO files new grid support deal for Presque Isle coal plant

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) on Sept. 12 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval of the newest System Support Resource (SSR) Agreement that will temporarily keep the coal-fired Presque Isle power plant in operation to support the grid.

The plant, located in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula, has been endangered lately due to age, a need for new emissions controls to meet the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), and a loss of local power demand by owner Wisconsin Electric Power.

MISO requests that this new SSR Agreement be accepted, with an effective date of Oct. 15, 2014. It replaces an earlier SSR Agreement.

Wisconsin Electric owns the Presque Isle facilities located in Marquette, Mich. These facilities include five major generating units that provide about 344 MW of capacity. Presque Isle has coal-fired steam boilers that were installed in the 1974-1979 period.

In August 2013, Wisconsin Electric submitted an Attachment Y Notice to MISO for suspension of Presque Isle Units 5-9, beginning on Feb. 1, 2014, and resuming operations June 1, 2015. Under the August 2013 Attachment Y Notice, operations would have resumed before MATS would go into effect. MISO completed its analysis of the Attachment Y Notice and notified Wisconsin Electric in October 2013 that Presque Isle Units 5-9 would be designated SSR, subject to an evaluation of possible alternatives to a SSR Agreement. MISO concluded that the proposed suspension of Presque Isle during the sixteen month suspension period, without curtailment of load by means of demand response or other alternative, would result in violations of specific applicable reliability standards. As a result, MISO designated Presque Isle Units 5-9 as SSR Units.

Then on April 15, 2014, Wisconsin Electric notified MISO of its decision to retire the Presque Isle units outright and submitted a second Attachment Y Notice. The date of retirement stated on the Attachment Y Notice was Oct. 15, 2014. That notice came after the utility lost some of its customer load in the region.

MISO began working with Wisconsin Electric and the MISO Independent Market Monitor (IMM) to negotiate and develop an appropriate replacement agreement. The resulting Replacement SSR Agreement is for a 14.5-month period between Oct. 15, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2015, a period that should encompass most of time needed expenditures for compliance with MATS that will be reassessed for the following calendar year of 2016 when the SSR Units must meet the new standards.

Wisconsin Electric has continued to operate the Presque Isle units under a SSR designation since on and after Feb. 1, 2014, MISO noted.

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.