Manitowoc Refuel Renewable Project



Manitowoc Public Utilities (MPU) initiated the Manitowoc Renewable Refuel Project in 2021. This project entails refueling two existing circulating fluidized bed boilers – Boilers 8 & 9 – from burning primarily fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum coke, to burning 100% Wisconsin-recognized renewable fuel pellets. MPU has been burning this fuel since 1996, but only at a small percentage. Refueling to renewable fuel pellets is beneficial to the City of Manitowoc, and MPU customers, for several reasons, including: cost control, maintaining grid resiliency, providing local control, and increasing sustainability. Listed below are more details on each benefit of this project.


Cost Control

Renewable fuel pellets are made from local non-economically-recyclable industrial paper and plastic waste that would otherwise be landfill-bound. Costs of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum coke have drastically increased. Renewable fuel pellets are significantly cheaper allowing MPU to maintain competitive electric rates for our customers.


By refueling our boilers to burn these pellets, approximately 18,000 tons per month of mpm-economically-recyclable industrial paper and plastic waste is diverted from the landfill. Additionally, the pellet burning process recognizes a reduced need for limestone addition to the boiler, which results in a reduction of about 7,500 tons per month of limestone and subsequent equivalent reduction in need for landfill disposal as limestone/ash. This project also recognizes that comparing to our 2005 baseline, our net greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by approximately 55%.

Local Control

Without this project, MPU’s power plant would no longer be considered economical and therefore would not be called on to run by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), who is the power grid operating authority for Wisconsin and other nearby states. MPU’s power plant asset is valuable for several reasons, but primarily because of retaining local power plant jobs and the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to the City of Manitowoc. Along with maintaining jobs and PILOT, staff is researching ways to increase supply of renewable fuel pellets that would end up adding jobs and potentially increasing the PILOT payment to the City of Manotowoc.

Grid Resiliency

Generating power with renewable fuel pellets creates dispatchable energy to the grid, meaning the generation is consistent and continues generating as long as there is fuel supply. Non-dispatchable energy sources, such as solar and wind, can only be utilized when the conditions are right. This project enables more non-dispatchable energy sources to be utilized while this baseload generation, also deemed renewable by the State of Wisconsin, allows for those peaks and valleys when non-dispatchable energy sources cannot produce. This creates a stable power grid that can accommodate low, and high, demand.


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