Wisdom Station continues to run at record levels

2020 marked another year and another record for Corn Belt Power’s Wisdom Station power plant.

 Wisdom Unit 2 reached a record for starts and operating hours during the year. While the plant ran more than any year before, it fell just short of 2018’s energy production record.

 Wisdom Unit 2 had 96 attempted starts in 2020, up from its previous one-year record of 85. The unit had 437.3 operating hours, up from 2018’s record of 422.7 hours.

 “The price of natural gas remains low and stable which makes Wisdom Unit 2 a fairly competitive peaking resource in the Southwest Power Pool,” said Jacob Olberding, vice president, power supply, Corn Belt Power. “It is also relatively fast starting which makes it capable of operating on short notice if needed to support transmission system reliability.”

 Wisdom Unit 1 continued to be called on to run in the SPP footprint, however it didn't set a record in 2020.
“The number of starts and operating hours in 2020 is more in line with what we have seen in recent years, with the exception of 2019. In 2020 Wisdom Unit 1 still had much more starts/hours than what it had prior to joining SPP in 2015.”

Olberding says Wisdom Station’s reliability says a lot about the employees who work there.

“We have a great crew at Wisdom Station and I am very proud of what they were able to accomplish in 2020,” he said. “There were very few times when they were called to run that they weren’t able to make their online times or finish their scheduled runs. The entire crew at Wisdom Station – management, operations and maintenance – always step up to the challenge to ensure those units are available as much as possible and that they are reliable when called to run.”

COVID-19 wasn’t able to slow Wisdom Station down. Crews had to adapt and be flexible in order to keep the plant ready if called to run.

“I am especially proud of how the Wisdom Station crew adapted to all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the unique challenges it presented not only at work, but on the home front as well,” Olberding said. “So far throughout the pandemic, they have been able to maintain adequate staffing levels to respond with when the units are called upon.”

 As for 2021, Olberding expects a decrease in starts and run times for both units. However, that could change.
“The latest projections I saw called for an increase in natural gas prices in 2021,” he said. “That would likely lead to a decrease in the number of starts and operating hours at Wisdom Station. However, gas prices are just one of many variables when determining which power plants are called on to run. That’s why our Wisdom Station crew remains prepared and ready for when they get a call to generate electricity.”