Oct 22 (Reuters) - The power grid operator in the U.S. Midwest denied Wisconsin Energy Corp's request to shut its 407-megawatt Presque Isle coal-fired power plant in Michigan in February, a spokesman at the Wisconsin power company said Tuesday.
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the regional power grid operator, determined the coal plant must continue operating to maintain the reliability of the power system on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin Energy spokesman Barry McNulty said.
McNulty said We Energies is now in discussions with MISO to compensate the company to keep the plant operating.
MISO determined customers of privately held American Transmission Co(ATC) are responsible for paying the operating cost of the power plant, Jackie Olson, a spokeswoman for ATC said.
Olson said ATC had proposed several projects for the Upper Peninsula, but noted the projects anticipated the continued operation 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 Presque Isle, wanted to shut the plant after losing a big customer, Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, which operates two iron ore mines in the area.
Local papers said Cliffs Natural will save money by purchasing power from a unit of Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group Inc.