Wisconsin Public Service seeks approval for coal-replacing gas unit

Utility assumes some extra coal capacity to be gone by 2019

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Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) applied Jan. 21 at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to build about 400 MW of capacity through a new Unit 3 at the Fox Energy Center.

The proposed facility will consist of a single new nominal 400-MW net natural gas combined cycle plant in a “one-on-one” (1x1) configuration (one combustion turbine generator (CTG) and one steam turbine generator (STG)).

"The purpose of Fox 3 is three-fold," said the application, written by consultant Burns & McDonnell. "Fox 3 will replace older, less efficient coal-fired generating units; satisfy WPS’s forecasted need for capacity and energy to serve native retail and wholesale load, and place WPS and the State of Wisconsin in a superior position to comply with pending and future environmental regulations, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) draft greenhouse gas regulations."

As for coal retirements, WPS will be retiring Pulliam Units 5 and 6 and Weston Unit 1 by June 2015. In addition, the potential need to make major investments in the remaining older, less efficient coal units to achieve environmental needs is increasing the probability that Pulliam Units 7 and 8 and Edgewater Unit 4 will have to be replaced in the near future. This uncertainty regarding the remaining life of older, less efficient coal units is further complicated by the uncertainty about how the state of Wisconsin will respond to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan proposing regulation of CO2 emissions at existing power plants. Reliance on a plan that assumes continued operation of older coal units beyond the 2020–2025 period could result in a capacity deficiency at a time when it is reasonable to assume that the market may be short on capacity because of new regulations, the application noted. For purposes of this application, it was assumed WPS will retire or no longer have an ownership share in Edgewater 4 by December 2018 and will retire Pulliam Units 7 and 8 and Weston Unit 2 by May 2019.

Fox 3 will be constructed at the existing Fox Energy Center on WPS-owned land in the Village of Wrightstown, Wisconsin. The existing Fox 1 and Fox 2 consist of two natural gas-fired combustion turbine generators and one steam turbine generator in a “two-on-one” (2x1) configuration with a total nameplate capacity of 593 MW. ANR Pipeline Co. currently provides natural gas to the Fox Energy Center.

The estimated cost to construct Fox 3 is nominally $517m. Construction is expected to begin in March 2016 and the planned in-service date is December 2018.

The proposed technology for Fox 3 is a 1x1 combined cycle unit composed of a single CTG, a single heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) and single STG. The unit will use a high temperature Brayton gas turbine cycle with a multiple pressure Rankine steam cycle in which the waste heat from the gas turbine exhaust is used as the heat input to the steam cycle. The integration of the two thermodynamic cycles increases the overall cycle efficiency above what can be achieved separately with either cycle alone.

WPS continues to explore cogeneration opportunities in its service territory, which includes many customers in papermaking and other industries that use steam in their production processes. WPS is willing to invest in cogeneration that provides: reasonably priced generation resources for its native load customers; reasonably priced steam resources for its industrial customers; fuel efficiency benefits for all of its customers through the use of cogeneration technology; and potential uses for renewable fuels including waste products from the papermaking industry. These opportunities cannot be forecasted unless WPS has a commitment from a company willing to utilize excess heat or steam energy produced by Fox 3. WPS currently has no such commitments that will result in a significant reduction in its forecasted need for 2019.

New unit to run at 40%-50% average capacity factor

The new combined cycle unit will consist of one F-Class CTG, one triple-pressure HRSG with duct burners, and one reheat STG. The plant will primarily burn natural gas with the capability of running on fuel oil as a backup. The plant will be cooled by a wet cooling tower.  Based on current projections, Fox 3 is expected to run, on average, at annual capacity factors between 40% and 50% with monthly capacity factors reaching 73%. This estimate does not include the duct-fired capacity.

The existing connection to ANR’s Kaukauna Gate Station is a 16-inch diameter WPS delivery lateral. The existing WPS delivery lateral to ANR is large enough to provide natural gas service to Fox 3 in addition to Fox 1 and Fox 2. Fuel oil is currently stored on site and additional storage and unloading facilities are not required for Fox 3.

WPS submitted a generation interconnection request for Fox 3 to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) in September 2013, per the requirements of Attachment X to the MISO Tariff. MISO studied the interconnection request in its February 2014 Definitive Planning Phase (DPP) cycle. Those studies demonstrate that the existing transmission system is able to accommodate the interconnection and delivery of power from Fox 3 without the need for major expansion of the transmission system.

WPS, with the help of Burns & McDonnell, issued last year a request for proposals for combined cycle power supply options. Three bidders submitted a total of eight proposals. Upon receipt of each proposal, Burns & McDonnell reviewed the proposal for completeness and conformance with the minimum submittal criteria. A summary of the responses is:

  • The unidentified Bidder A proposed a Build-Prove-Transfer structure in which the bidder would own and operate its proposed project for 3 years after commercial operations begin and would sell the facility to WPS thereafter. During the 3-year period, WPS would have a tolling agreement with the bidder, after which it would purchase the asset for a predetermined fixed price. The proposed asset would be a new 693-MW (installed capacity) combined cycle plant located in Indiana and would be located in MISO Zone 6. The final technology scope was not clearly defined in the proposal, but the project was originally specified to be a 540-MW two-on-one (2x1) combined cycle configuration using Siemens 501F-Class gas turbines and a Siemens steam turbine and two General Electric LM6000 units in simple cycle configuration.
  • Bidder B proposed a Unit Participation Agreement for 300 MW of a combined cycle power plant in Illinois. It proposed to negotiate a definitive 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for the sale of physical capacity, energy, and ancillary services associated with WPS’s pro-rata share of the facility. The facility is being designed as two 1x1 combined cycle units with a total nominal capacity of 580 MW. The facility’s technology would consist of two General Electric 7FA.03 combustion turbine generators and two General Electric A10 steam turbines. This facility was under construction at the time the proposal was submitted and had an expected commercial online date of March 2015 for the first unit. The bidder proposed completing the second unit and ultimately being able to start to deliver capacity and energy to the PJM system by June 2019. The project is located within PJM outside of MISO Local Resource Zone 2. The bidder executed a 600-MW Interconnection Agreement with PJM; however, firm transmission rights to deliver the capacity and energy into MISO Local Resource Zone 2 is still under study by PJM. The bidder has requested 300 MW of firm transmission capacity for delivery into the MISO zone described above; however, the costs for these rights are unknown and would be borne by WPS.
  • Bidder C submitted six proposals consisting of a combination of two sites and three technology configurations. Under all proposals, Bidder C proposed that WPS could invest in a pro-rata, undivided interest in the facility and, in conjunction, procure the remainder of the facility output via a long term PPA. Each proposed facility would be located within MISO Local Resource Zone 2 and would have access to natural gas supply via an interconnect with an ANR pipeline. Under Proposals 1 and 4, the bidder proposed a 1x1 combined cycle facility based upon an F-frame combustion turbine capable of operation on natural gas and fuel oil. Proposal 1 identifies a site in Calumet County, Wisconsin, while Proposal 4 locates the project at WPS’s Fox Energy Center in Outagamie County, Wisconsin. Both proposals contain a June 2019 commercial operation date. Under Proposals 2 and 5, the bidder proposed a 1x1 combined cycle facility based upon a J-frame combustion turbine capable of operation on natural gas and fuel oil. Proposal 2 identifies a site in Calumet County, Wisconsin, while Proposal 5 locates the project at WPS’s Fox Energy Center. Both proposals contain a June 2019 commercial operation date. Under Proposals 3 and 6, the bidder proposed a 2x1 combined cycle facility based upon an F-frame combustion turbine that can run on gas and fuel oil. Proposal 3 has a site in Calumet County, Wisconsin, while Proposal 6 locates the project at WPS’s Fox Energy Center. Both proposals contain a June 2019 commercial operation date.

Each of the proposals did not meet several RFP requirements. WPS sent a letter to all bidders who responded to the RFP in August 2014, which identified the requirements not met. No bidders responded with either questions or offers to mitigate the risks associated with these requirements, WPS notified the bidders in September 2014 that their bids were no longer being considered.

Barry Cassell
About the Author

Barry Cassell

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 26 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.

Barry can be reached at barryc@pennwell.com.

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