A new natural gas-fired power plant project being developed by Wisconsin-based WEC Energy Group will use seven Wärtsilä 50SG gas engines. The Finland-based technology company on May 24 announced the equipment order, with the engines expected to be used at a planned 128-MW facility located near Wausau, Wisconsin, that would be built at the site of the existing Weston coal-fired power plant in Marathon County.
The new gas-fired plant will serve customers of WEC Energy Group utilities We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service.
Wärtsilä on Tuesday said it will deliver the engines in October of this year. The plant is scheduled to be commissioned in March 2023.
“Wärtsilä places a tremendous amount of value in our relationship with repeat customer, WEC Energy Group, and we are thrilled with this opportunity that will continue to enable them to make progress in their ambitious goals to decarbonize and increase the penetration of renewables in their system,” Jon Rodriguez, director of engine power plants for Wärtsilä Energy in North America, told POWER. “WEC Energy Group is a company with unmatched operational expertise. They know it’s all about reliability, flexibility, and efficiency, and we are proud to have been chosen as their engine supplier for the third time.”
The new Wausau plant was approved by the state Public Service Commission in late March. The facility is part of WEC Energy Group’s future generation strategy, which includes becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The state’s largest utility has said it plans to retire at least 1.6 GW of older fossil fuel-powered generation by 2025, and plans to shutter all its coal-fired units by 2035, while using coal generation only as backup after 2030.
WEC already has allocated $5.4 billion to new investments in solar and wind power, and battery storage. The utility in 2017 ordered Wärtsilä engines for two other power plant projects, in Negaunee and Baraga townships in Michigan, with total output of 188 MW. Those two plants are powered by a total of 10, 50SG natural gas-powered engines, and are owned by Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp., a WEC subsidiary.
The 50SG can be converted to run on various fuels including 100% synthetic and carbon-neutral methane, methanol, and hydrogen blends.
Said Rodriguez, “Wärtsilä is helping to create a carbon-neutral world for electricity providers and the Wärtsilä 50SG engine is a hallmark of that future-proof design. With the ability to convert the engine to run on various fuels including hydrogen blends, the Wärtsilä 50SG will be able to support the reliability and flexibility demands of our client now and well into the future.”
Wärtsilä on Tuesday said it will have an installed base of more than 3,800 MW in the U.S. after the new plant is commissioned.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).