Wolverine Power plant awaits air permit decision

By Anna Austin | June 13, 2011

Wolverine Power Corp.’s proposed 600-megawatt (MW) power plant planned for Rogers City, Mich., will be fueled with a 95:5 coal/biomass mixture if the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grants the company a final air permit.

The company expects a decision to be made by June 30, said Nancy Tanner, Wolverine Power’s director of communications. A public hearing on a draft air permit issued for the plant was held May 19, following a month-long comment period.

The Wolverine Clean Energy Venture would be built at the site of a limestone quarry and consist of two 300-MW power generation units. They would use about 255,000 tons of woody biomass per year, sourced from a 75-mile radius of the plant.

During the past five years, Wolverine has been exploring different options to meet growing electricity demands, and has found the coal/biomass option to be the most cost-efficient, low-emission option. In an alternative analysis report requested by the MDEQ and the Michigan Public Service Commission, the company evaluated and compared the project to traditional base-load power supply technologies. Some of the findings included that the project compares favorably to traditional pulverized combustion power plant options because of its fuel flexibility and ability to utilize renewable fuels such as biomass, and while natural gas, wind and solar generation options offer lower emission rates, each of these options would also carry a prohibitive cost burden compared to this project’s cost of power.

In addition, biomass was determined to be the least-cost alternative/lower emitting option, and biomass research conducted by Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University found that CO2 emissions could be reduced by as much as 18 percent through the sustainable use of biomass.

There is an additional component to the project—a potential wind turbine farm to be located near Adams Point, south of Rogers City. Wolverine Power erected a meteorological tower at the site in the fall of 2007 and is working with DEWI North America to further study wind speed and directional data.

Power from the plant would help to meet Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard, which is 10 percent by 2015.