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Friday, December 19, 2008

Regulators begin review of Ashland biomass power plant

From a media release issued by Xcel Energy:

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) has created a docket to begin evaluating the company’s request to install biomass gasification technology at the Bay Front Power Plant in Ashland, Wis. This represents the first step in the regulatory review process for the innovative project that, if approved, would transform Bay Front into the largest biomass-fueled power plant in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the nation. When completed, the project will convert the plant’s remaining coal-fired unit to biomass gasification technology, allowing it to use 100 percent biomass in all three boilers. Currently, two of the three operating units at Bay Front use biomass as their primary fuel to generate electricity.

In 1979, the facility became the first investor-owned utility plant in the nation to burn waste wood to generate electricity.

This is the first time biomass gasification technology will be used to convert a coal-fired boiler at an existing base-load power plant. 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 and is expected to cost $55-$70 million.

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