For the second time in two years, a power plant near Wausau, Wis., was knocked out of service by a lightning strike. Repairs to fix the damage to the plant’s turbine and generator rotors are estimated to cost $8.3 million. Green Bay, Wis.-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp. will also have to pay $26 million in higher costs for power the utility must purchase to replace the energy generated by the plant. The plant is expected to be out of service until late 2007 or early 2008. It generates 321MW of electricity.

The same power plant was truck by lightning in August 2006. At that time, the utility appealed to its customers in the Wausau, Minocqua, and Rhinelander areas to reduce electricity use. The utility also cut off power supply to large manufacturing customers. The current damage occurred despite installation last year of a lightning suppression system that was in operation at the time of the strike.

State regulators have authorized the utility to seek to recover $26 million from its customers at a later date. A request to recover the $8.3 million in repair costs is pending. According to the utility, the lightning strike would reduce profit by 0.5% in 2007, translating to seven cents a share in lower earnings for the company’s parent company, Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group, Inc. unless the state Public Service Commission approves the utility’s proposal seeking to recover those costs from customers at a later date.