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WPS closing old electricity units

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Public Service Corp. says it will shut down its two oldest electricity-generating units.

The coal-fired units at the J.P. Pulliam Plant in Green Bay will be closed as a result of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to repower, refuel or retire older units that produce high emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

The closure means 10 jobs will be eliminated. WPS spokesman Kerry Spees tells Press-Gazette Media says some of the workers are temporary employees who were hired with the knowledge their jobs could be eliminated.

The agreement also included two older units at the Weston power plant near Wausau, Spees said. A decision on those units will be made later this year, he added.

WPS stopped running Bay Pulliam Units 5 and 6 full time about a year ago. They were built in 1949 and 1951 and generate a combined 112 megawatts.

“In the current regional energy market, only the most efficient plants operate 24 hours every day as these units were designed,” said Paul Spicer, vice president-electric supply. “Converting the units or adding expensive environmental controls to keep them running just isn’t in our customers’ best interests.”

Spees said WPS has enough access to electricity to meet customer needs and maintain a state-mandated 18 percent reserve margin after the units are shut down. The state requires the margin as a hedge against brownouts during periods of unusually high demand.

WPS recently announced two agreements to buy power from a Canadian electric and natural gas utility company. The agreements with Manitoba Hydro are for 108 megawatts between 2016 and 2021. The second is for 308 megawatts for up to 10 years starting in 2027, after Manitoba Hydro finishes construction of a proposed new hydroelectric power station. A previously announced sale of 100 megawatts of power to WPS is scheduled to run from 2021 to 2026, bridging the gap between the two deals.

Pulliam Units 7 and 8, built in 1958 and 1964, continue to operate in Green Bay and generate about 200 megawatts.

Information from: Press-Gazette Media, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com

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