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Wisconsin Energy sees coal plant back by late May
Release Time:2012-5-8
      U.S. power company Wisconsin Energy said Monday it expects the 615-megawatt Unit 1 at the Elm Road coal-fired power plant in Wisconsin to return to service by the end of May after a long maintenance outage. The company shut Unit 1 by the end of September for an inspection near the end of its warranty period. The unit entered service in February 2010.

      During the inspection, workers found deposits containing chlorides in the steam turbines.

The adjacent 615-MW Unit 2 has continued to operate since Unit 1 shut, Wisconsin Energy spokeswoman Cathy Schulze told Reuters.

     The company has said it does not expect the problem with Unit 1 to affect Unit 2, which entered service in Jan. 2011, but said it would inspect Unit 2 before its warranty ends later this year.

     Bechtel, a construction firm, built the new Elm Road units at Wisconsin Energy's Oak Creek power plant. The new plant cost Wisconsin Energy about $2 billion for its majority stake in the project.

     Two other power companies own minority stakes of about 7 percent each in the two new units, including a unit of MGE Energy, of Madison, Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Public Power Inc, a regional power company serving municipal utilities in Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa.

     Wisconsin Energy has not estimated the cost of the Unit 1 outage, spokeswoman Schulze said.

     In addition to the two new Elm Road units at Oak Creek, there are four older coal units at the site with a generating capacity of about 1,135 MW. The older units were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

     Elsewhere, Wisconsin Energy is looking to convert the fuel used at the 267-MW Valley power plant in Wisconsin from coal to natural gas. The two units at Valley entered service in 1968 and 1969.

     Schulze said before making decisions on Valley, Wisconsin Energy had to get approval to run a natural gas pipeline to the plant. She said the company does not expect a decision on the gas line until later this year.

     Separately, Wisconsin Energy and Wolverine Power Cooperative signed a letter of intent in January to evaluate a joint venture to invest in environmental improvements at Wisconsin Energy's 431-MW Presque Isle coal-fired power plant on the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.

     Wisconsin Energy said proposed federal environmental regulations have created uncertainty for the plant with the potential for its retirement in 2017.
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