With proven, renewable energy, now’s the time to map out plan for other dirty plants to be shuttered

MADISON/PRESQUE ISLE, MI — Air in the Upper Midwest is markedly cleaner now that We Energies has taken two dirty coal-fired power plants in Presque Isle, Mich. offline.

“This is a huge win for the environment and human health in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula,” said Katie Nekola, Energy Program Director of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg in the fight to clean our environment and address global warming.”

The two units at Presque Isle, just over the stateline between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Northeast Wisconsin, will keep 850,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), over 3,600 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and 1,276 tons of nitrogen oxide from polluting the atmosphere each year. This soot and smog is associated with increased respiratory symptoms and disease and premature death.

In addition to the health benefits of taking these coal-fired units offline, it presents an opportunity for the states of Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as utility companies, to move toward clean, renewable energy. At present, there is too much baseload, or the minimum amount of power that a utility or distribution company must have constantly available to its customers, on the electricity grid.

“Why should ratepayers pay for energy they’re not even using? With too much power already available, it’s the ideal time to map out a plan for retiring the dirtiest coal plants and put more stock in proven renewable forms of generation, such as wind power,” says Nekola. “Clean Wisconsin appreciates and applauds We Energies’ move, but it’s just the first of many that must be made, sooner rather than later, to clean our environment and stem climate change.”