Xcel Energy announced it will submit an application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to install technology that will enable all three operating units at its Bay Front Power Plant in Wisconsin to generate electricity from biomass.
When complete, the company says the plant will be the largest biomass-fueled power plant in the Midwest.
Currently, two of the three operating units use biomass as their primary fuel to generate electricity. The new project will convert the existing coal-fired unit to biomass gasification technology, allowing the plant to use 100 percent biomass in all three boilers.
In this process, waste wood reacts with a controlled amount of oxygen at high temperatures to create a gas mixture called synthetic gas that is then used as a fuel in the boiler.
The project is expected to cost between $55 million to $70 million. Once the plant is operational, it is expected to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 50 percent, sulfur dioxides by more than 85 percent and particulate matter by 90 percent.
The plant currently uses just over 200,000 tons of waste wood each year. When the project is complete, the plant will use an additional 185,000 to 250,000 tons per year, and expects to generate enough renewable electricity to serve 40,000 homes.
Under a first-ever binding and enforceable agreement with New York’s Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, the company will have to disclose the financial risks that climate change poses to its investors in its annual SEC filings.