Settlement will fund Lake Michigan protection projects for 25 years and address global warming
OAK CREEK — The three year legal battle over the water intake structure at the Elm Road Generating Station (ERGS) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, ended late last week with a settlement agreement that will provide $100 million for Lake Michigan protection projects over a 25 year period and take significant steps to address global warming.
“This settlement provides the long-term commitment of resources necessary to help find solutions to many of the issues Lake Michigan faces today,” said Mark Redsten, executive director at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization.
Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club filed suit after the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a permit allowing the use of a once-through cooling system at the coal-fired power plant. The organizations held that once-through cooling did not represent the best available technology for cooling the plant and thus should not be permitted.
According to the terms of the settlement agreement, Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club agree to withdraw their legal challenges to the DNR permit, and, in return:
- The ERGS owners (We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, and Wisconsin Public Power Inc.) will fund $4 million per year from 2010 through 2035 for projects to address water quality issues in Lake Michigan such as invasive species, polluted runoff, toxic loadings, and habitat destruction.
- We Energies will retire two coal-fired units in Presque Isle, Michigan.
- We Energies will ask the Public Service Commission for approval to construct 50 megawatts of 100 percent biomass-fueled power in Wisconsin.
- The ERGS owners will purchase or construct 15 megawatts of solar generation by Jan. 1, 2015.
- The ERGS owners agree to support legislative efforts to establish a renewable energy portfolio standard of 10 percent by 2013 and 25 percent by 2025.
“We’re happy to have reached an agreement that has significant benefits for both the lake and the fight against global warming,” Redsten said. “These environmental protections help ensure Lake Michigan is a healthy natural resource for generations to come.”