Supercritical Coal Unit Enters Service in Wisconsin

Supercritical Coal Unit Enters Service in Wisconsin

The first of two new supercritical 615-MW coal-fired units at the $2.3 billion Oak Creek power plant have come online, We Power said last week. Construction continues on the second 615-MW unit, and it is expected to be commercially operational later this year.

Bechtel Power Corp., general contractor of the project, completed final performance testing of Unit 1 and turned over the unit to We Energies on Feb. 2. We Power, a subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy Corp. of Milwaukee, Wis., owns about 85% of the new supercritical plant and leases the output to We Energies. We Energies operates and maintains the plant. MG&E and WPPI Energy, partners in the project, own 200 MW of capacity of the new units at Oak Creek.
Bechtel says on its website that construction of the two units is the “biggest lump-sum turnkey project in Bechtel’s history.”

“Everything about this power project is bigger and broader than anything we’ve done before, from the weight of the steel to the height of the buildings to the size of the equipment and the extensive work outside the power block,” Bechtel’s Project Director George Conniff said.

The two units are being built under We Energies’ “Power the Future Plan,” an initiative announced in 2000 to help Wisconsin meet its energy needs. Construction at Oak Creek began on June 29, 2005, a day after the Supreme Court of Wisconsin reversed the Dane County Circuit Court’s November 2004 decision and reinstated the Public Service Commission’s final decision and order in all respects involving construction of the Oak Creek Power Plant expansion.

We Energies also recently put into service two 545-MW natural gas-fired units at the Port Washington Generating Station. The first unit achieved commercial operation in July 2005, and the second unit came online in May 2008. The company also completed a project to add an air quality control system (AQCS) at the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant, and it is working on a similar project at its South Oak Creek units.

Units 1 through 4 of the existing Oak Creek power plant on the west shore of Lake Michigan, all built during the 1950s, were retired in the late 1980s. Units 5 through 8 came online in 1959, 1961, 1965, and 1967. According to We Energies, these “units still have substantial useful life, and with continuously improving pollution control technology, they can run for many more years.”

Sources: We Energies, Bechtel, POWERnews

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