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Wheaton Generating Station

Wheaton Generating Station

The six simple-cycle gas turbine generators produce electricity


Location: Wheaton, Wis.

Plant Description: Wheaton consists of a central building that contains the plant and substation control equipment, plant offices and employee facilities. A separate fuel oil transfer building and two oil storage tanks have the capacity to hold a combined 10 million gallons of fuel oil. Wheaton contains four General Electric (GE) and two Westinghouse simple-cycle gas turbine generators, capable of either independent or combined operation. The GE turbines can burn either natural gas or #2 fuel oil. The Westinghouse turbines can burn only #2 fuel oil.

Power Production Capability: Six units can generate a total of 330 megawatts (MW) of electricity in summer and 430 MW in winter (the units went into service in 1973).

Fuel Sources: Industrial-grade, low-sulfur #2 fuel oil and/or natural gas.

Plant History

Construction began on the Wheaton Plant on May 26, 1972. The plant was placed in service on May 6, 1973, to be used as a backup generating facility. The six simple-cycle gas turbine generators produce electricity by operating independently or as a combined system. These turbines work on the same principle as a jet engine, except they are designed for industrial applications. A unit can be started and placed in synchronous operation at a rotating speed of 3,600 RPM in 12 to 22 minutes, depending on the unit. The units generate at a voltage of 13.8 KV, which is transformed to 161 KV for connection to the 161 KV transmission system grid at the Wheaton Substation. These 161 kV lines are connected to Xcel Energy substations located in Eau Claire, Menomonie, Wissota (at the Wissota Hydroelectric Plant) and Elk Mound. In 1997, Units 2 and 4 were converted to burn natural gas as well as fuel oil. In 2000, Units 1 and 3 three were also converted to dual fuel systems. In 1999, an inlet fogging system was added to all six units.

Interesting Features

Wheaton is important in the overall scheme of generation because in the event of a major blackout in Western Wisconsin or Minnesota, the plant provides a major source of power to the transmission grid. Wheaton can be started by using the direct transmission tie from the Wissota Hydro Plant. The industrial grade low-sulfur #2 fuel oil used at Wheaton requires preheating with resistance heating to improve the flow and atomizing characteristic prior to ignition in the gas turbine. Supply is through an oil pipeline running through the plant property.

Environmental Highlights

Silencers have been installed on each unit to help reduce the noise levels when all the turbines are in operation. The use of natural gas instead of #2 fuel helps reduce emissions.

Community Involvement

Tours are provided to the general public on a frequent basis.

For more information contact:

Plant Information and Tour Requests — 1-800-895-4999
Wisconsin Media Inquiries — 715-737-2565
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