"Burning gas and not coal:" Upgrade for Valley Power Plant equals savings for customers

MILWAUKEE -- A big switch is now complete at the We Energies Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee -- and the upgrade is expected to translate into huge savings for customers.

We Energies Valley Power Plant

A few years ago, the Valley Power Plant faced an uncertain fate.

"With forever more stringent environmental emissions regulations facing the plant, there really was no good way to keep this facility burning coal without costly air quality control equipment," said Tom Metcalfe, Senior Vice President of Power Generation for We Energies.

Metcalfe said We Energies looked at all alternatives and decided the best option was to convert the facility from coal to natural gas.

Tom Metcalfe

"We simply removed the coal equipment," said Metcalfe. "And replaced with gas burners. So we still have the same furnace that we always had. We're just burning gas and not coal."

Metcalfe said the completion of the $62 million project is expected to both improve reliability and translate into cost savings of more than $10 million a year for customers.

"If you go back to 2012 when we made the decision to convert this facility to natural gas, and you compare the cost of coal then to the cost of natural gas today, it's a full 40 percent cheaper," said Metcalfe.

Metcalfe also said from an environmental perspective, using natural gas at the Valley Power Plant is considerably cleaner than burning coal ever was.

We Energies Valley Power Plant

"We've almost halved the CO2 emissions for every pound of steam that we generate here at the Valley Power Plant," said Metcalfe. "I would say that, you know, the Valley and the city is cleaner as a result of this conversion."

FOX6 News learned the Valley Power Plant's conversion was done in a couple of phases. The second portion of the switch was completed earlier in November.

We Energies Valley Power Plant