MADISON — Community members from across the state gathered today at Alliant Energy’s annual shareholder meeting to tell the corporation that the proposal to construct a coal plant in Cassville, Wisconsin is a bad investment for Wisconsin’s environment and economy. Following the protest, ratepayers and other stakeholders excluded from the Alliant shareholder meeting met with national experts in a separate room of the Alliant Energy Center to discuss smarter energy solutions for powering the 21st century.
“Coal-fired power plants not only poison Wisconsin’s air and water but also poison our future,” said Ryan Schryver, grassroots organizer at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “In Wisconsin, we have a unique economic opportunity to become a leader in the green energy industry—this opportunity is fleeting and will be lost if we continue to invest in coal” he said.
Thomas Sanzillo, former Deputy Comptroller from New York, has performed numerous economic analyses of coal-fired power plants in New York and across the Midwest and spoke about the rising costs of coal and the risks to ratepayers at the meeting. Mr. Sanzillo anticipates that rising construction, labor and coal prices, as well as anticipated global warming regulation, will likely result in grossly inflated coal-fired energy rates at a time when many Wisconsinites struggle to pay for their food and keep up with their mortgage.
Beyond discussing the economic risks of the plant, participants voiced concern over the environmental consequence of continuing to rely on coal.
“While other Wisconsin utilities are moving away from coal and reducing their global warming emissions, Alliant is moving in the opposite direction, projecting a shameful 40% increase in global warming emissions that would result from their plans to build new coal plants here in Wisconsin and Iowa,” Said Jennifer Feyerharm of the Sierra Club.
While Alliant dismisses this claim by suggesting the Cassville plant is “innovative” because it will burn as much as ten percent biomass, their own data demonstrates that the plant will produce as much global warming pollution as 40-year-old Wisconsin plants fueled exclusively by coal.
“Coal-fired power plants contribute to global warming, pollute our lakes, rivers and streams with mercury and threaten the economic future of the state” said Schryver. “When viable energy alternatives exist, it is irresponsible for Alliant to threaten the environmental health and economic viability of Wisconsin by investing in more outdated coal plants.”