Xcel wrapping up Bay Front air project, which went over budget

Xcel Energy‘s Northern States Power subsidiary told the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in a Jan. 23 quarterly update that work is about 97% completed on an air emissions project at the coal-fired Bay Front power plant that the commission approved in December 2012.

Project construction commenced in May 30 2013 with the start of pile installation. Baghouse erection and stair tower erection is complete. Erection of the five duct support towers is complete. Mechanical and electrical contractors mobilized on site in June 2014 to start planned work for 2014. The boilers were first fired over the two days of Nov. 12 and 13, 2014, and the units were released for normal dispatch on Nov. 21, 2014. Performance and stack testing is scheduled to occur in March, 2015. All final carryover work is scheduled for completion in May 2015. On Dec. 31, 2014, the overall percent of physical completion was approximately 97%.

The update noted: “The Commission-approved amount for this project is $18,506,741. With this report, the Company is notifying the Commission that the most recent forecast of project costs anticipated through the in-service date of March 15, 2015 and the end of all final carryover work in May, 2015 is estimated to be in the range of $20,596,447 to $20,810,447. Expressed in percentages, the corresponding range of increase is 11.3 to 12.4 percent above the approved amount.”

Excess costs were triggered by various things, including problems with the fabric filters, the utility noted. Other cost issues included fire suppression systems, including spark detection and mitigation equipment, were not in the original scope of the workplan but were required due to new risk and insurance requirements, and a new air compressor not identified in the original scope was needed due to inadequacies in the plant’s existing compressed air system.

The Bay Front plant is located on the shore of Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior. Three boilers feed steam into a combined steam header system that can support three turbine-generator sets. These boilers (number 1, 2, and 5), burn fuels including coal, waste wood, railroad ties, tire-derived fuel, and natural gas to produce steam that drive the three turbine-generator sets (identified as numbers 4, 5, and 6) to produce electricity.

Of the three existing turbine-generator sets, #4 has a capacity of 22 MW and came into service in 1949, #5 has a capacity of 22 MW and came into service in 1952, and #6 has a capacity of 30 MW and was placed in service in 1957. NSP has said it has no plans to install additional air control equipment on boiler number 5 because it intends to burn only natural gas in that boiler after Jan. 1, 2015, so it can comply with a Wisconsin mercury reduction rule.

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.