ASME-Landmark:Port Washington Power Plant


The Port Washington Power Plant of the Wisconsin Electric Company was the most thermally efficient steam power plant in the world for many years following its opening in 1935. Its design reflected the cumulative experience of the utility's engineers in burning pulverized coal at the Oneida Street Plant (ASME landmark #42) and the Lakeside Station in Milwaukee.

Port Washington was planned to meet the growing demand for electricity and was built during the Great Depression, as the Wisconsin Electric Company was confident that a return of more nearly normal conditions would justify the expense of the plant and believed it necessary to continue providing employment during the financial turmoil. Construction began on Port Washington Power Plant on May 26, 1930. Equipment manufactured in Milwaukee, Port Washington, and the surrounding communities was used wherever possible to keep the money in the company's service area.

Improvements on the Lakeside Station's designs included the design of the unit itself; there was only one boiler for the single turbine-generator, one set of transformers, one 132,000-volt transmission line, and one set of auxiliaries. The plant designers determined that simplification of the plant's design would simplify its operation. Its Combustion Engineering unit, with a capacity of 690,000 pounds of steam an hour and a design pressure of 1,390 pounds per square inch, was at the time the largest high-pressure boiler ever built.

Record efficiency and increasing reliability continued at the plant until newer plants surpassed it in 1948. The success of the Port Washington plant accelerated the adoption of pulverized coal burning for central power plants in the United States. See ASME website for more information