The commercial startup of Wisconsin Energy's 615 MW Oak Creek Unit 2 expansion has been delayed due to problems with one of two main boiler feed pumps.

The 615 MW coal-fired generating unit completed critical performance tests necessary for the unit to be placed into commercial operation, the utility said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of these tests is an operability test, which requires the unit to achieve a minimum availability of 90 percent over a continuous 15-day period. The utility also said Unit 2 had completed the required net capacity and heat rate tests, as well as certain environmental tests.

The filing said one of the boiler feed pumps has had high vibration and also experienced sub-synchronous vibration, which it said occurs when the frequency of the vibration is different than the rotational speed of the pump. The utility said its contractor, Bechtel Power Corp., is working with the pump manufacturer and also engaged a third party expert to review and correct these issues. 

The boiler feed pumps supply high temperature, high pressure water to the boiler, which turns this water into steam to power the unit's turbine generator. Because of the issues with the boiler feed pump, Unit 2 was not be placed into commercial operation and turned over to the utility during the fourth quarter of 2010 as had been expected. The utility said based on the schedule and information provided by Bechtel, Unit 2 could be placed into commercial operation by Jan. 28.

The utility said in its filing it expects to collect liquidated damages under the contract with Bechtel. It cautioned the final amount may be adjusted as Bechtel likely will be entitled to schedule relief for the delay.

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