Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and its parent corporation, WEC Energy Group, announced a plan to transition away from coal as a fuel source for its generation fleet by 2035. The transition supports the company’s commitment to affordable, reliable and clean energy, and will help it reach its carbon reduction goal for net-zero generation by 2050.
While the transition is more than a decade in the future, the effort will require significant planning and detailed execution to ensure that the company has the infrastructure and technology in place to reliably meet Wisconsin’s energy needs. One way in which the company plans to achieve this is to utilize available technology to run super-critical baseload units on natural gas.
Co-firing at WEC Energy Group subsidiary We Energies’ Elm Road Generating Station in Oak Creek and WPS’ Weston Power Plant has been tested and infrastructure is in place to make modest co-firing possible. The Elm Road units were built so that they could run on natural gas up to 30% without any major changes; Weston 4’s demonstrated capability was closer to 10%.
With its existing higher co-firing capability, a revision to Elm Road’s environmental permit is being sought and, pending approval, operating refinements will be made to enable co-firing up to 60% by 2025. Over time, the plan is to transition completely away from coal by making incremental investments in plant facilities, including new burners. Additional pipeline capacity will also be needed to the site.
In the coming years, options also will be explored at the Weston Power Plant, including the potential to use natural gas.