Officials of Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, a subsidiary of WPS Resources Corporation (NYSE: WPS), are pleased with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin's preliminary approval of the 500-megawatt (MW) Weston 4 power plant near Wausau, WI, and are excited to begin construction.
"This project is necessary to help us keep pace with the increased electric demands of our customers," said Larry Weyers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of WPS Resources Corporation. The $752 million construction project was granted preliminary approval by the three-person state commission today (September 23, 2004). A written order authorizing construction to begin is expected to be issued by the Commission within the next several weeks.
The project was originally announced on September 25, 2002. One year later, the completed design of the project was submitted to the PSCW for approval. Construction is expected to take about four years. The Green Bay-based utility expects the new plant to be operational in 2008.
"We appreciate the thorough work of everyone who contributed to get this project approved," said Charlie Schrock, President and Chief Operating Officer - Generation for Wisconsin Public Service. "By working together, we have a project we can all be proud of. We also thank those who attended and participated at the hearings and meetings that were held during the project's licensing process."
The new plant, called Weston 4, will be located adjacent to the existing Weston Unit 3 and will burn low-sulfur coal in a high-efficiency, super-critical boiler. It will feature an advanced air emissions system. Design engineers were also able to include a loop rail track on the site to prevent lengthy delays at traffic intersections during the coal unloading process. The total 345-acre power plant site is located in the villages of Rothschild and Kronenwetter in Marathon County in central Wisconsin.
Electric generators at the Weston power plant site have been providing energy to homes and businesses in Wisconsin since 1954, when Weston Unit 1 (60 MW) began operating. Weston Unit 2 (75 MW) was added six years later and, in 1981, Weston Unit 3 (300 MW) began operating. There are two smaller, natural gas-fueled "peaking" units at the site that are used when electric customer demand is at its highest.
Public Service anticipates a construction crew of about 1,200 to build the plant and expects to add about 40 permanent power plant-related jobs when the new generator begins operating. Construction is anticipated to begin soon as the new power plant has a completion date in 2008.