Wolverine Power Cooperative (Cadillac, MI) and We Energies (Milwaukee, WI) have received regulatory approvals from three agencies for their partnership at the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, MI. The Michigan Public Service Commission, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have approved the partnership between the two companies.

Two additional approvals are needed before proceeding with the construction of an air quality control system (AQCS) at the power plant. Wolverine and We Energies are required to obtain approval from the Federal Trade Commission for the transaction. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) must also approve an air quality permit for the construction project.

“MDEQ staff members are currently reviewing the permit application,” reports Brian Warner, Wolverine’s vice president of environmental strategy. “We are working closely with them and anticipate a draft permit will be issued later this summer.”

Once a draft air permit for the AQCS is issued, the MDEQ will accept written comments from the public and schedule a hearing in Marquette to provide an opportunity for additional comments.

“After the hearing, all comments received will be reviewed by the MDEQ, and a decision to approve or deny the permit will be made before the end of the year,” Warner explains.

If all regulatory approvals are received, Wolverine will invest in construction of the AQCS. In return, the cooperative will own approximately 30 percent of the plant’s output. We Energies and its employees will operate both the plant and new AQCS.

The project is proceeding according to the timeline anticipated by Wolverine and We Energies. The companies expected regulatory approvals to take the majority of 2013. Construction of the AQCS is slated for 2014 and 2015, and operation of the plant with the new controls is scheduled for 2016.

“The new controls will meet state and federal air quality requirements and ensure continued operation of an important source of electric generation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” Warner says. “The Presque Isle Plant is key to electric reliability in northern Michigan.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder voiced support for the project in November 2012 at a news conference held by Wolverine and We Energies in Marquette to announce the partnership.

“The partnership of We Energies and Wolverine Power Cooperative to keep the Presque Isle Power Plant open is good news for the current and future availability of a reliable electric supply for businesses and residents in the Upper Peninsula,” Snyder said. “The agreement will also be good for the economy with more than 100 workers remaining on the job, and for the environment with the plant’s new state-of-the-art emissions equipment.”

The Presque Isle Plant, located on the Lake Superior shore, consists of five coal-fueled units capable of generating approximately 344 megawatts as currently operated. The units were built between 1974 and 1979.

– Nancy Tanner