Power grid denies We Energies request to shut Michigan coal plant

Reuters

Oct 22 (Reuters) - The power grid operator in the U.S.Midwest denied Wisconsin Energy Corp's request to shutits 407-megawatt Presque Isle coal-fired power plant in Michiganin February, a spokesman at the Wisconsin power company saidTuesday.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), theregional power grid operator, determined the coal plant mustcontinue operating to maintain the reliability of the powersystem on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin Energy spokesmanBarry McNulty said.

McNulty said We Energies is now in discussions with MISO tocompensate the company to keep the plant operating.

MISO determined customers of privately held AmericanTransmission Co(ATC) are responsible for paying the operatingcost of the power plant, Jackie Olson, a spokeswoman for ATCsaid.

Olson said ATC had proposed several projects for the UpperPeninsula, but noted the projects anticipated the continuedoperation of the Presque Isle plant.

ATC is a transmission only company owned by publicly traded,municipal and cooperative utilities in Wisconsin, Michigan,Minnesota and Illinois.

Wisconsin Energy's We Energies unit, which operates PresqueIsle, wanted to shut the plant after losing a big customer,Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, which operates two ironore mines in the area.

Local papers said Cliffs Natural will save money bypurchasing power from a unit of Chicago-based Integrys EnergyGroup Inc.

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