WPPI Energy, in its 2017 Annual Report, which the company announced on its website on June 25, said that the 345-kV Badger Coulee transmission project is on schedule to be in service by the end of this year.
Construction progressed significantly in 2017 on the project from the Briggs Road substation north of La Crosse to northern Dane County, WPPI Energy said, adding that it owns about 1.5% of the portion of the line between the Briggs Road and North Madison substations. Construction, which started in 2016, is on budget, WPPI Energy said.
“Owning transmission assets delivers a valuable return that helps to significantly offset growing transmission costs, which now represent approximately 14% of WPPI Energy’s wholesale rate to members,” WPPI Energy said. “WPPI Energy’s equity investment in American Transmission Co. was $123 million at the end of 2017. We own 6.7% of the transmission-only utility.”
According to American Transmission Co.’s (ATC) website, ATC and Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) have received approval to build the approximately $580m, 180-mile Badger Coulee line. Dairyland Power Cooperative, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency – Wisconsin, and WPPI Energy are also owners for the portion of the project between the Briggs Road and North Madison substations, the site noted. The project will address electric system reliability issues locally and in the Midwest; provide economic savings; and support renewable energy policy, according to the site.
Further discussing transmission, WPPI Energy said in its report that as of last September, all five of the CapX2020 group of Upper Midwest transmission projects are complete, and that together, those projects represent 800 miles of transmission built by 11 utility partners, including the 345-kV Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse project. WPPI Energy said that it owns about 10% of the Wisconsin portion of that 345-kV line. Those projects will strengthen grid reliability and increase access to cost-effective renewable energy and other generation resources for the region, according to WPPI Energy.
Noting its diverse fuel mix, WPPI Energy said that coal accounted for less than half of the energy it supplied in 2017, with the remainder supplied from a balanced mix of nuclear, natural gas, and renewable energy.
WPPI Energy said that in June 2017, it began receiving power from the Nelson Energy Center. WPPI Energy noted that it executed a 20-year agreement with an affiliate of Invenergy in 2014 to purchase about 90 MW from that natural gas-fired, combined-cycle power plant located in Lee County, Ill.
Also, in January 2017, WPPI Energy executed a 20-year agreement with an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources to purchase the output from the 99-MW Point Beach Solar Energy Center, which is to be built adjacent to the Point Beach Nuclear Plant near the WPPI Energy member community of Two Rivers. WPPI Energy added that the 99-MW facility is expected to be in service in 2021.
In July 2017, WPPI Energy executed an agreement with an affiliate of Invenergy to purchase 132 MW through mid-2040 from the Bishop Hill III Wind Energy Center in Henry Co., Ill. WPPI Energy added that the facility, which entered service this month, will more than double WPPI Energy’s use of energy from wind.
WPPI Energy also noted that it has completed work on a fuel flexibility project at the Elm Road Generating Station that helps lower production costs by enabling up to 100% use of Western coal when it is the more affordable coal. Also, 210 MW of WPPI Energy’s long-term power purchases were terminated last year, providing open space to accommodate new power supply resources, WPPI Energy said.
Among other things, WPPI Energy discussed renewable energy, noting that its members offer their customers options to offset some or all of their electric usage with energy from renewable resources. Last year, customers purchased more than 35,000 MWh through the “Choose Renewable” program, WPPI Energy said, adding that revenues from that program are used to help raise awareness and increase the local use of renewables. WPPI Energy said that as a result, it has, for instance, helped fund 56 community based renewable energy demonstration projects in 46 member communities.