Still a bad investment for Wisconsin’s environment and economy

MADISON — Today’s latest proposal in Alliant Energy’s push to construct a coal plant in Cassville, Wisconsin, would still result in one of the state’s dirtiest power facilities, according to the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization.

“Alliant continues to repackage their proposal in an attempt to sell this dirty coal plant as an environmentally friendly option,” said Katie Nekola, Energy Program Director at Clean Wisconsin. “Replacing a nearly retired coal plant that emitted less than 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 2006 with one that would emit more than 2.3 million tons of greenhouse gas annually for at least 50 years is not a solution to global warming.”

The company announced changes in a new proposal today, including the retirement of one small coal plant, the addition of more wind to its energy portfolio and the ability to burn up to 20 percent biomass in the plant.

Even at 20 percent biomass, the Cassville plant would emit more greenhouse gas emissions than other, more efficient, power plants fueled exclusively by coal in Wisconsin. The Public Service Commission, however, has questioned many details of Alliant’s previous commitment to burn even 10 percent biomass in the recent environmental impact statement.

The announcement comes one month after the Public Service Commission released a draft environmental impact statement claiming Alliant’s proposal was “not the optimal generation choice,” and “not the least cost option under any scenario.”

“The estimated costs of Alliant’s expansion plans are skyrocketing and the construction of the coal plant alone will likely cost over $1 billion,” said Nekola. “If this plant is built, Wisconsin energy users will shoulder the burden of the construction costs and future greenhouse gas regulations.”

Alliant’s proposal shift falls six months into a year-long construction approval process in front of the Public Service Commission that has already been fraught with errors, omissions and incomplete data.

“While Alliant is once again trying to repackage this coal plant, the fact remains that it is a coal plant at heart,” Nekola said. “The high costs and substantial greenhouse gas emissions of this plant make it a bad investment for Wisconsin’s economy and environment.”