Northern States Power says coal stocks at Sherco still below target

The Northern States Power unit of Xcel Energy on Jan. 23 told the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in a heavily-redacted update that the coal inventory situation at the Sherburne County (Sherco) power plant is still below par, while inventories are strong at two other plants.

The filing was a response by H.C. Romer, Director Fuel Supply Operations at Xcel Energy Services, to a question from PSC staff.

Said Romer about deliveries via the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR): “Current coal inventories continue to be far less than optimal at Sherco, which is serviced by BNSF. Since the last update, coal inventory has increased significantly. Inventory levels at King and Black Dog are at or above optimal levels; these plants are serviced by UPRR.”

Romer added about efforts to mitigate coal inventory problems: “When necessary, Xcel Energy utilized a cost adder in our energy offers submitted to MISO to help restore coal inventory levels that were depleted due to poor railroad coal delivery performance by reducing generation production at the Sherco units during periods with lower Locational Marginal Prices (LMP). This approach allowed for energy to remain available to be produced from the units during higher priced periods in an effort to minimize customer cost impacts. Xcel Energy’s objective is to maintain stockpiles with sufficient coal to provide reliable generation during normal disruptions to the coal mine(s) or to the rail transporter. There are currently no cost adders on any NSP units to mitigate or reduce coal consumption, and we have not instituted any specific control of plant operations beyond this measure.”

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.