Bay Front is a three-unit generating station that has become a model for the creative use of fuels. Coal, waste wood, railroad ties, discarded tires, natural gas and petroleum coke are used to produce steam that drives three turbine-generators to produce electricity.
“This is a great testament to our employees,” said Dave Fulweber, plant manager. “Their ability to make sure the plant is running safely and reliably throughout the year is the foundation for reaching this record. Through reliable operations and ability to coordinate and secure quality waste wood from loggers and other suppliers within a 75-mile radius of Ashland, Bay Front continues to be an important renewable energy and economic resource for Wisconsin.”
This week, Fulweber and other Xcel Energy employees met with local wood suppliers to discuss the forecast for the coming year. Through its current purchases of waste wood and related services, the Bay Front Power Plant has a $20 million annual economic impact on a six-county region around Ashland. The plant can generate approximately 76 megawatts of electricity.
“We have steadily increased our use of locally and sustainably harvested waste wood and worked closely with suppliers to maintain high quality,” Fulweber said. “In the past 10 years we have nearly doubled our use of waste wood while decreasing the small amount of coal we use at the plant.”
Xcel Energy is an active contributor to the Lake Superior Woody Biomass Initiative (LSWBI) which promotes the scientific research and development of biomass energy plantations. Along with funding from Xcel Energy and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the LSWBI has established hybrid poplar and black willow germplasm clone plantations in the Ashland area.
In 1979, Bay Front became the first investor-owned utility power plant in the nation to burn waste wood to generate electricity. Since then it has used more than 5.5 million tons of waste wood, including sustainably harvested local biomass and used railroad ties, while dramatically reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. Last year, the Bay Front Power Plant generated more than 217 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.