Wisconsin Public Service works with GE on Fox plant upgrade project

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. told the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin on Jan. 27 that it is making progress lining up equipment and the contractor for a planned upgrade of the two existing units at its gas-fired Fox Energy Center.

The commission in October 2014 had approved the project. WPS plans to convert the combustion technology used at Units 1 and 2, located in the city of Kaukauna, Outagamie County, Wisconsin. As part of the proposed project, WPSC would enter into an amended and restated contractual service agreement with General Electric International. WPSC estimates the cost of the project to be $68,076,000, excluding Allowance for Funds Used During Construction (AFUDC).

The Fox Energy Center is a dual-fuel, combined-cycle facility consisting of two GE combustion turbine (CT) generators, arranged in a two-by-two-by-one configuration with two Nooter/Eriksen heat recovery steam generators (HRSG), one Toshiba condensing steam turbine generator, and associated plant equipment. Each CT-generator set includes a GE model 7FB.014 CT, a GE model 7FH2(B)5 hydrogen-cooled generator, and various subsystems. The nameplate capacity of the Fox Energy Center is 593 MW, with a summer rating of approximately 550 MW.

The project consists of the conversion, modification, and upgrade of the “hot section” of each CT from its current configuration, referred to as GE model number 7FB.01, to an advanced technology having a design common to GE 7FA.04 and 7FA.OS models. GE 7FA series turbine models are much more common than those currently in use at Fox, and are better supported by GE.

In the Jan. 27 update, the utility said that on Oct. 29, 2014, it provided written notification to General Electric International of its intention to proceed with the proposed technology conversion. Prior to issuing the notice to proceed, representatives from WPSC and GE visited the 7FB.04 fleet leader site during physical construction of a similar combustion turbine technology conversion. The site had completed the conversion of two 7FB.01 units in the spring of 2014; conversion of a third unit was underway during the visit.

GE has secured vendor manufacturing capacity (i.e., slots in the vendor’s production queue) as required to ensure that the components with the longest lead time (turbine casings) will be available prior to the commencement of construction. GE has completed high‐level “application” engineering. The contractor has also commenced detailed “requisition” engineering and is working to finalize the bill of materials associated with the proposed control system upgrade (GE SPEEDTRONIC Mark VIe). Design of the new fuel gas module and dual‐fuel Dry Low NOx (DLN) 2.6+ combustion system has begun.

Construction is projected to begin on Unit 1 around April 11, 2016. Construction is projected to begin on Unit 2 on or about April 3, 2017. The Unit 1 in-service date is projected for June 1, 2016, while for Unit 2 it is June 1, 2017.

The estimated cost of the conversion project is $68,076,000, excluding AFUDC. As of Dec. 31, 2014, actual project costs of $24,209.64 had been incurred, excluding AFUDC.

Notable is that WPS applied Jan. 21 at the commission for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to build about 400 MW of capacity through a new Unit 3 at the Fox Energy Center. The proposed facility will consist of a single new nominal 400-MW net natural gas combined cycle plant in a 1×1 configuration (one combustion turbine generator and one steam turbine generator).

“The purpose of Fox 3 is three-fold,” said the application, written by consultant Burns & McDonnell. “Fox 3 will replace older, less efficient coal-fired generating units; satisfy WPS’s forecasted need for capacity and energy to serve native retail and wholesale load, and place WPS and the State of Wisconsin in a superior position to comply with pending and future environmental regulations, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) draft greenhouse gas regulations.”

The estimated cost to construct Fox 3 is nominally $517m. Construction is expected to begin in March 2016 and the planned in-service date is December 2018.

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.