Wisconsin Regulatory Review Starts For Biomass Project

Staff | September 28, 2010

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) has created a docket to begin evaluating Xcel Energy's request to install biomass gasification technology at the Bay Front Power Plant in Ashland, WI.

This is the first step in regulatory review for a project that would transform Bay Front into the largest biomass-fueled power plant in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the U.S.

When completed, the project will convert the plant's remaining coal-fired unit to biomass gasification technology, allowing the plant to use biomass fuel in all three of its boilers.

Currently, two of the facility's three power generators use biomass as their primary fuel.

The project will require new biomass receiving and handling facilities, an external gasifier, modifications to the plant's remaining coal-fired boiler, and an enhanced air quality control system. It is expected to cost $55 million to $70 million.

The changes to the plant will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by more than 60 percent, sulfur dioxides by more than 80 percent, and particulate matter by more than 80 percent.

In addition, replacing coal with sustainably harvested biomass will also reduce net carbon dioxide emissions, thereby helping Wisconsin meet its carbon-management goals.

Following all state regulatory approvals, engineering, design and construction work is expected to begin in 2010, and the unit could be operational in late 2012.