Making existing power plant more efficient would save ratepayers nearly $1 billion

MADISON —  Alliant Energy could save its customers nearly a billion dollars and significantly reduce global warming pollution by converting a company-owned natural gas power plant in Neenah to a more efficient design instead of constructing another coal-fired power plant in Cassville, according to expert testimony filed before the Public Service Commission this week.

“The Public Service Commission should not allow Alliant to build the most expensive coal plant in the country at a time when Wisconsin residents already struggle to keep up with rising energy costs,” said Charlie Higley, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board. “Even Alliant’s experts agree that the alternative of upgrading the Neenah plant will help keep electricity bills more affordable in Wisconsin.”

Alliant purchased the Neenah power plant in April of this year which can run on traditional natural gas or substitute natural gas, a renewable resource currently produced from manure on Wisconsin farms. By converting to a more efficient technology, the plant would use waste heat that otherwise escapes through smokestacks to produce additional clean and inexpensive electricity.

“Compared to Alliant’s dirty coal plant proposal, this alternative would reduce global warming pollution by 65 percent, significantly lower soot, smog and mercury pollution, and keep hard-earned money in the pockets of Alliant’s customers,” said Katie Nekola, energy program director at Clean Wisconsin.

Alliant would save customers as much as $956 million over the life of the plant by scrapping plans to build an inefficient coal-fired power plant in Cassville and instead making the Neenah power plant more efficient, according to the company’s own testimony. Additional analysis by PSC staff, Clean Wisconsin and Citizens Utility Board confirm these results. In fact, customer savings could be expected even if natural gas prices increase above projections.

“Alliant already owns a cheaper and cleaner alternative to the Cassville coal plant,” said Nekola. “The Public Service Commission should reject Alliant’s dirty, expensive coal plant.”

Technical hearings regarding the coal plant will begin in Madison tomorrow, September 19th and will run through next Friday, September 26th. Following these technical hearings the Public Service Commission will hold public hearings in Cassville on September 29th and in Portage on September 30th. The Public Service Commission will then have until mid-December to decide whether to reject or approve Alliant’s coal plant proposal.