Wisconsin PSC says rail coal delivery situation at least not getting worse

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin said in a brief Dec. 30 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is monitoring slow rail deliveries of coal, particularly to Upper Midwest utilities, that coal stockpiles are not a major issue right now in and around Wisconsin.

The report, dated Dec. 30, was entered into the PSC docket on Jan. 13.

“Slow rail deliveries of coal to electric generation facilities in Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest have left several major coal-fired electric generation facilities with fuel inventories that are well below targeted levels,” said the PSC report. “Most major coal-fired facilities that supply Wisconsin load receive fuel deliveries by rail. Rail deliveries have recently been constrained due to increased rail system volumes and other events that have resulted in rail system congestion.

“Coal-fired electric generation remains an important part of Wisconsin’s baseload generation mix. In 2012, over 33.3 million megawatt-hours, or 52.1 percent of the state’s electric energy was produced at coal-fired electric generation facilities. With the colder season upon us, the Commission is very interested in the cost and reliability implications of the current reduced coal inventories, and is actively monitoring the situation. Currently, the Commission is monitoring coal inventories at a total of fourteen facilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. These facilities serve Wisconsin load, and a report regarding current inventories is due every two weeks.”

Highlights of the Dec. 12, 2014, report include:

  • Six of fourteen unnamed facilities monitored report improving conditions because of improving rail service.
  • Six facilities report implementing coal conservation measures to minimize fuel use.
  • Three facilities report improving inventories due to facility outage.
  • Six facilities report inventories at or near targeted levels.
  • Seven facilities report inventories that are below targets.
  • No facilities are currently reporting degrading conditions.

“While the Commission does not currently anticipate serious reliability implications from the current coal supply situation, the Commission will continue to actively monitor coal inventories for degrading conditions,” the Wisconsin PSC added. “Should coal inventories degrade, the Commission will promptly notify you of such.”

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.