The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is taking comment until May 1 on two companion air permit exemption applications from We Energies that would allow the utility to test, for a period up to a year, the co-firing of natural gas at the adjacent Oak Creek and Elm Road coal plants.
We Energies applied March 28 for these approvals.
At Oak Creek, the proposal is to co-fire natural gas with coal as regular fuels in Units #5, #6, #7 & #8. The proposed test may be exempted from permitting requirements provided that the testing or research will not present a significant hazard to public health, safety, or welfare or to the environment. The department has preliminary determined that these tests will not present a significant hazard. The testing would need to conclude within 12 months of the receipt of the final decision letter.
If the testing is successful and We Energies-Oak Creek Site decides to use this system on a continuous basis, We Energies may need to submit permit application forms for a construction permit to obtain approval to operate on a continuous basis.
We Energies-Elm Road Generating Station is proposing to research and test using natural gas, co-fired with coal, as a fuel in Units #1 and #2. The current permit allows for the use of natural gas but it is normally just used for startups, shutdowns and load stabilization. The testing will be done to determine the future long-term feasibility of co-firing natural gas as a potential compliance option to meet various upcoming EPA regulations. The existing natural gas burners will be used for the testing. The equipment will be in operation for less than 12 months. It is expected that the co-firing testing may occur for up to 30 operating days on each boiler.
The Oak Creek site occupies 1,000 acres of land on the shore of Lake Michigan, 20 miles south of Milwaukee. The plant units are: Unit 5, 261 MW; Unit 6, 264 MW; Unit 7, 298 MW; and Unit 8, 312 MW.
Elm Road, also known as the Oak Creek Expansion project, is at the same site and was built late last decade. Units 1 and 2 are supercritical coal-based, baseload facilities. Each unit is 615 MW in size.