MISO wants to extend life of one White Pine unit in Michigan

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator filed on April 20 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Comission for approval of a System Support Resource (SSR) Agreement with White Pine Electric Power LLC (WPEP) out of Michigan for just one of two units covered by prior SSRs.

This is a renewal of an original SSR Agreement that was filed with the commission in April 2014 for White Pine Unit 1. WPEP owns the White Pine facilities located in White Pine, Michigan. These facilities include three generating units, including a spare that is currently non-operational and two other units that each provides approximately 20 MW of capacity. White Pine has two boilers that have historically been coal-fired, but are currently fueled by natural gas purchased on the spot market.

In October 2013, WPEP submitted an Attachment Y to MISO for retirement of White Pine 1, beginning on April 16, 2014. MISO then notified WPEP that White Pine 1 would be designated an SSR Unit until such time as appropriate alternatives could be implemented to mitigate grid reliability issues. MISO concluded that the proposed retirement of White Pine 1, without curtailment of load by means of demand response or another alternative, would result in violations of specific applicable reliability standards.

WPEP agreed to a 12-month SSR Agreement for the period between April 16, 2015, and April 15, 2016. WPEP has agreed to continue operating White Pine 1 on and after April 16, 2015, for at least the length of this agreement period.

A West Technical Study Task Force stakeholder meeting was held on Feb. 10 to discuss White Pine 1. That sessin also involved discussion of the SSR Agreement for White Pine 2, which is the subject of a pending filing for termination of that SSR Agreement. The end result of this meeting was the absence of any significant debate over the continued, near-term need for the SSR status for White Pine 1.

During the Feb. 10 stakeholder discussion, the review of generation redispatch, system reconfiguration, special protection schemes, and/or operating guides provided no solution to fully address the reliability issues identified. No new generation was identified to be in commercial operation prior to the start of the retirement. Demand response would be required from several customers, and is not available to make it practical as an alternative to an SSR Agreement.

MISO noted that it re-evaluated a proposal to consider the availability of the Portage combustion turbine (CT) (located in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan) in its analyses. The Portage generator, owned by Upper Peninsula Power Co., was removed from “Emergency” status on Jan. 1, 2015, making the unit available to MISO for planned outages and thus a viable alternative to SSR service. MISO concluded that White Pine 2 would no longer be needed for reliability purposes, but that White Pine 1 would remain needed for SSR purposes.

To compensate for the eventual shutdown of Unit 1, American Transmission Co. (ATC) has proposed MTEP15 project 8089 that would rebuild the 69-kV transmission path from Lakota Road to Mass to Winona and convert the line to 138-kV operation with an estimated in-service date of Dec. 31, 2021. No further significant feedback from stakeholders was received to help resolve these matters regarding substitutes for an SSR arrangement for White Pine 1.

The White Pine 1 SSR Agreement appears to be required for the period until a transmission upgrade renders the SSR designation for White Pine 1 unnecessary. At the time when the initial Attachment Y Study Report was prepared, the transmission reinforcements were being developed, and the early estimate of the completion date for the upgrades was in the 2019-2022 timeframe. Further evaluation of the project needs identified additional construction requirements, and the current estimated in-service date of proposed MTEP15 Project 8089 is Dec. 31, 2021. MISO annually reviews the SSR Unit and transmission system characteristics to determine whether the SSR Unit is qualified to remain as a SSR Unit. Additionally, under both the Tariff and the SSR Agreement, MISO retains the right to terminate this SSR Agreement prior to the end of the term by giving 90 days written notice to the participant. The proposed term of this new SSR Agreement is twelve months.

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.