Wisconsin utility plans to retire 345 MW of coal early as controversial natural gas plans remain in flux

Dive Brief:

  • Dairyland Power Cooperative is planning to retire a 345 MW coal plant in 2021, following Wisconsin regulatory approval of its 625 MW natural gas plant, co-owned with Minnesota Power.

  • Utility officials said the Wisconsin Public Service Commission`s (PSC) Jan. 16 approval of the gas-fired Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC), expected to come online in 2025, gave Dairyland the "confidence" to retire the coal plant early. Originally, the plan was to run the facility for another five to 10 years.

  • The gas plant, which will serve customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, received approval from Minnesota regulators in October of 2018, but in December the Minnesota Court of Appeals? ordered further analysis, directing the state`s Public Utilities Commission to do an environmental impact of the plant.

As the costs of maintaining old coal plants outweigh those of building new facilities, more utilities are choosing to retire their coal-fired units in favor of cheaper natural gas and renewables.

"In addition to impacts on employees, many factors were considered when making this decision," including regional market prices for energy, overall power production costs and the facility`s age, Dairyland spokesperson Deb Mirasola told Utility Dive in an email.

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- - Volume: 8 - WEEK: 5 Date: 1/27/2020 8:55:16 AM -