Historic decision will save ratepayers money and reduce pollution

MADISON — Wisconsin regulators rejected a proposal to build a conventional coal plant for the first time in state history today when the Public Service Commission voted unanimously to reject Alliant Energy’s highly controversial $1.26 billion coal plant on the shores of the Mississippi River in Cassville, Wisconsin.

“Today’s historic decision will help move our state toward a strong clean energy economy,” said Katie Nekola, energy program director and attorney at Clean Wisconsin an environmental organization that fought Alliant’s application to construct the coal plant since it was first filed before the Public Service Commission in February 2007. “Stopping dirty coal plants is critical to reducing global warming pollution and creating jobs by paving the way for alternatives like wind, solar, and smart biomass technology,” she said.

The rejection of Alliant’s coal plant highlights the changing atmosphere of energy policy in Wisconsin. The project faced unprecedented opposition; the public by a 10-1 margin, the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, the Wisconsin Paper Council, and RENEW Wisconsin, all joined Clean Wisconsin and Citizens Utility Board (CUB) in opposing the construction of the coal plant.

“Building coal plants has never made sense from an environmental perspective, and no longer makes sense from an economic perspective,” said Charlie Higley, executive director of CUB. “When cleaner alternatives would save ratepayers $800 million, the perception that dirty coal is cheap is nothing but hot air.”

Shifting away from coal and moving toward renewable energy sources and energy efficiency will help promote growth in Wisconsin’s economy. A recent national report demonstrated that Wisconsin could create 37,000 family-supporting jobs in the coming years by investing in clean energy technologies like wind, solar, biofuel and geothermal power as well as energy efficiency.

“The Commission’s leadership in rejecting Alliant’s dirty coal plant protects Wisconsin’s ratepayers and environment,” said Nekola. “Clean energy production will drive America’s economy in the coming years, and this victory will position Wisconsin to become a leader in the clean energy economy.”