A planned methane gas plant for Superior, Wis., is increasingly likely to become an expensive, outdated waste of ratepayer money. That’s according to a letter filed with the PSC today by Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club. The groups are calling on the PSC to rescind its 2020 approval of the $700 million Nemadji Trail Energy Center, saying cheaper renewable energy storage technology has already made the large, costly plant unnecessary.
In its original decision, the Commission concluded that renewable energy battery storage was “not yet capable of replacing a plant of this size.” But Wisconsin utilities have announced plans to construct battery projects totaling 489 megawatts by 2025, two years before NTEC is currently planned to begin operation.
“This is a chance for the PSC to protect ratepayers and the environment by recognizing that the energy landscape has fundamentally changed since 2020,” says Clean Wisconsin attorney Brett Korte. “This project would move Wisconsin backward, and people will be paying for it in their bills for decades to come.”
The groups also point to $9.7 billion in federal funding as part of the Inflation Reduction Act to help rural electric cooperatives transition from fossil fuel to renewable generation like wind and solar. Dairyland Power Cooperative and Basin Electric Power Cooperative are two of the utilities that plan to invest in the plant.
“This plant was always a bad investment, but it would be incredibly unwise to leave so much money on the table and stubbornly stick with fossil fuels that are going to harm communities and the environment in Wisconsin. The new federal funding really is a game changer, and Wisconsin should do everything it can to capitalize on the opportunities it presents,” Korte says.
Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club have long fought the project, which would add 3-million tons of carbon pollution into Wisconsin’s environment each year. Their letter requests the Commission rescind its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the plant and reopen the proceeding to consider the new developments