Tight energy supply conditions and renewable energy project delays have led two Wisconsin utilities to delay the retirements of several coal-fired units.

We Energies said it will extend the lives of four units at its Oak Creek site. The coal units have a total capacity of 1,100 MW and were placed into service in the late 1950s and 1960s.

The expected retirement of Oak Creek Units 5 and 6 will be delayed by one year, until May 2024. The retirement of Units 7 and 8 will be delayed for approximately 18 months, until late 2025.

“The decision to postpone the retirement dates for these units is based on two critical factors: tight energy supply conditions in the Midwest power market and supply chain issues that will likely delay the commercial operation of renewable energy projects that are currently moving through the regulatory approval process,” said Scott Lauber, president of We Energies.

Alliant Energy also plans to push back the retirement of Edgewater Generating Station in Sheboygan to a new date of June 2025. The remaining Edgewater unit has a roughly 400 MW capacity and was commissioned in 1985. The plan was originally to retire Edgewater by the end of 2022.

The utility also said the remaining Columbia Energy Center units in Portage will now be retired by June 2026. Columbia went into operation in 1975 and is capable of generating more than 1,100 MW at capacity. The plant was scheduled to close by the end of 2024.

David de Leon, president of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company, said the decision to delay the retirements also stems from supply chain and economic challenges, along with shifting Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) requirements beyond 2022 and regional short-term reliability concerns.

MISO recently released a study forecasting the region, which includes parts of 15 states including Wisconsin. The study said MISO could face energy shortages during the summer of 2022.

Alliant Energy said it expects to be out of coal generation in Wisconsin by mid-2026. The company is currently moving forward on 12 solar projects that will bring nearly 1,100 MW of generation online in the state.

We Energies has a goal to reduce carbon emissions from its generating fleet by 60% at the end of 2025 and 80% by the end of 2030. Both measures are compared to a 2005 baseline.

We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service, both subsidiaries of the WEC Energy Group, announced in 2021 they were jointly planning to build 625 MW of combined solar and energy storage capacity in the state.

The utilities proposed the 325 MW Darien Solar Energy Center and storage project in Rock and Walworth counties. The $446 million site would feature 250 MW of solar generation linked to 75 MW of battery storage. Construction was expected to begin in Spring 2022 with completion by the end of 2023

The companies also announced plans for the 310-MW Paris Solar-Battery Park. The $400+ million Paris project will be built in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. It was approved by regulators in March.

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