Alliant says new Riverside project will feature natural gas, solar energy

Alliant Energy (NYSE:LNT) said April 24 that its Wisconsin utility is asking the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for a certificate to build a 650-MW combined-cycle, natural gas-fueled generating station at the company’s Riverside Energy Center near Beloit, Wis.

GenerationHub previously reported that an application for a new gas-fueled power plant was in the works.

“By replacing about 700 MW of aging generation with a highly efficient natural-gas facility, this project will play a large role in the modernization of our Wisconsin fleet and reflects our continued commitment to environmentally responsible resources,” said John Larsen, the president of Alliant’s Wisconsin Power and Light (WPL) subsidiary.

The proposed project location is on the site of Alliant Energy’s existing Riverside Energy Center, Beloit Operations Center and Rock River Generating Station. The company has had facilities in the Town of Beloit for over 50 years and has produced power in the region since the 1920s, the company said in a news release.

As part of Alliant Energy’s plan to expand its renewable energy portfolio, the facility’s operations will be powered in part by a solar-energy installation.

In March 2015, the company made the decision to integrate solar energy into the project to help off-set the station’s power needs, and improving the environmental profile of the expanded Riverside Energy Center.

If approved, the company expects to begin construction in the summer of 2016 and complete the approximately 650-MW facility in early 2019. The estimated project investment is $750m, excluding transmission and allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC).

The solar aspect of the project could potentially generate 2 MW and represents an investment of $9m, the company told GenerationHub.

The Riverside Energy Center expansion is capable of powering more than 500,000 homes, while creating hundreds of family-supporting jobs during its construction and additional long-term operational positions upon completion.

The project’s application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) can be found at psc.wi.gov under docket no. 6680-CE-176.

“Over the next few years, Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin utility, Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL), will be retiring several of the coal-fired power plants in its fleet; in addition older, less-efficient natural gas peaking resources are also nearing retirement. WPL will need a new source of capacity and energy in 2019 to replace these older retiring units,” the company said in the executive summary of the certificate application.

In November 2013, Alliant Energy formally began a feasibility study for new generating resource options that could satisfy its obligations to meet peak customer load and maintain reserve margin requirements of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).

“Not only will the facility be able to come on-line quickly to respond to electric system demands, it will be able to provide around-the-clock generation to meet customers’ needs,” WPL said in the application.

No EPC vendor selected yet

WPL has not selected an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor yet. An EPC solicitation process could start next month with a final selection likely in January 2016, the company said.

The company estimates that the project’s construction will take two-and-a-half years and provide up to 500 construction jobs during peak construction.

Natural gas service will be supplied via the existing ANR natural-gas transmission pipeline. The project will connect to the ATC electric transmission system at ATC’s Townline Road substation on the Riverside Energy Center site.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.