Valley Power Plant conversion
We completed the conversion of Valley Power Plant’s fuel source from coal to natural gas in 2015 to help reduce operating costs and enhance environmental performance.
The plant’s electric capacity remains at 280 megawatts. Switching fuel sources required converting the existing boilers from coal to natural gas. Boiler conversion entailed removing the existing coal burning equipment, installing natural gas piping and burners, and modifying the combustion controls. The project also required modifying or replacing auxiliary systems, equipment and plant controls.
Valley Power Plant was constructed along the Menomonee River in Milwaukee in 1968 to generate electricity for the grid and to supply steam for more than 300 district energy customers in downtown Milwaukee. Today, the plant continues to play a critical role not only by producing electricity and steam but also by providing voltage support for the downtown area.
Cogeneration — combined heat and power — is one of the most efficient methods of producing electricity and thermal energy from a single fuel source. At Valley Power Plant, electricity is generated by burning natural gas in a furnace to create heat. In a boiler, the heat converts water into steam, which drives a turbine that drives a generator to make electricity. Cogeneration occurs when a portion of the steam used to generate electricity is extracted from the turbine and distributed to Milwaukee downtown customers and businesses for sterilizing, laundering, food processing, space and water heating, and other purposes.
Heat and electricity generated at Valley Power Plant are reliable and efficient alternatives to heat provided by individual, on-site boilers. Steam is delivered through an underground distribution network that includes more than 18,000 linear feet of steam tunnels. An automated system controls the flow of steam and pressure for district energy customers.
We have a long-standing and proven track record of investing in a reliable and balanced energy portfolio that reduces our environmental impact and improves air quality in Southeast Wisconsin. Since 2000, our system-wide emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and mercury have decreased more than 80 percent.