Power Plant of the Week - William F. Wyman Station

If Central Maine Power (CMP) is your utility, you owe a debt of gratitude to the Wyman family. In 1899, Walter Wyman purchased a dam on the Messalonskee stream near Oakland, ME. In the early years of the 20th century, Walter Wyman built what would later become the CMP by building out new service and acquiring smaller electric companies throughout the State of Maine. For the Wyman family, running electric utilities was a family business and Walter's son William became the CEO of CMP in the late 1940s. William F. Wyman would run CMP until 1962 when he passed away. 

The post war years were characterized by rapid load growth in Maine and CMP continued the build-out of their system to keep up. In addition, CMP was active in working to recruit industry to locate in Maine. The William F. Wyman station was built in the mid 1950s on Cousins Island in Yarmouth, ME. This location offers several advantages including access to water (for cooling water and barge deliveries of oil) and proximity to the load in the Portland area. The bridge to Cousins Island was built to accommodate the construction of this plant. Click here to see the plant on Google Maps.

William F. Wyman Power Plant

William F. Wyman Power Plant

There are currently four steam turbine units at the William F. Wyman station and all are fueled by Residual Fuel (a.ka. No. 6 fuel oil). Units 1 and 2 went online in 1957 and 1958, respectively and have nameplate capacities of approximately 50 MW. Unit 3 came online in 1963 and has a capacity of ~ 115 MW. Unit 4 is identifiable by the large smokestack,   was completed in 1978, and has a nameplate capacity of ~ 600 MW.   CMP sold the plant to Florida Power & Light in 1999. Florida Power & Light subsequently re-branded its deregulated operations as NextEra Energy in the late 2000s. There are also several minority shareholders in the plant who own an approximate 12% interest of Unit 4.

For many years, pollution associated with this plant was considered a significant problem in Downeast Maine and raised the ire of local environmental activists. NextEra Energy did invest in pollution control technology at the plant in the early 2000s, but argued against a state-of-the-art upgrade citing the age of the plant and its uncertain future lifespan. The deregulated ISO-NE energy market has indirectly solved the pollution problem associated with the plant since it is rarely dispatched due to its high costs. Except during the hottest days in summer or the coldest days in winter, natural gas is less expensive that residual fuel. As a result, natural gas fired power plants are able to undercut the William F. Wyman station on price and keep it out of the market unless demand exceeds the ability of hydro, nuclear, renewable, and natural gas assets to supply the ISO-NE load.  The graph below shows the net generation in Megawatt hours for Units 1-4 at the plant and its clear that this plant has become a peaking resource for peak winter and summer conditions. Although the plant was needed in January and February 2013, its output was still only about 10% of its maximum potential monthly output capacity.

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NextEra Energy recently announced that it is looking to sell the William F. Wyman station. Due to its age, infrequent dispatch, and difficult economics, NextEra says that this plant is no longer a strategic fit. While NextEra hasn't publicly announced an asking price, our guess is that its around $1,000 o/b/o, cash only. If you are in the market for an uneconomic generating asset with spectacular water views, William F. Wyman could be yours. Also, if you live in Yarmouth, ME your property taxes are going to increase once this plant gets sold and its assessed value is reset.