We Energies to Convert Valley Power Plant to Cleaner-Burning Natural Gas

, By Clean Wisconsin

Move will help reduce air pollution, improve health in downtown Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — Residents in downtown Milwaukee will soon be able to breathe easier, after We Energies announced new plans this morning to convert the coal-burning Valley Power Plant to cleaner-burning natural gas.

“Today’s announcement is a victory for the 24,000 residents who live within one mile of Valley and suffer from the pollution coming from the plant every day,” said Katy Walter, clean energy specialist at Clean Wisconsin. “Congratulations to all of our partners at the Cleaner Valley Coalition, who helped make this victory possible.”

Located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, the Valley Power Plant is one of the oldest and dirtiest coal plants in the state. It is a significant source of toxic mercury pollution as well as soot and smog, which are linked to serious health problems including asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. Converting the plant to natural gas will help substantially reduce pollution coming from the plant, making the air cleaner and healthier to breathe.

“Moving away from burning coal is especially good news for the 30,000 children in Milwaukee County who suffer from asthma,” said Walter. “Throughout this campaign we’ve heard heart-wrenching stories from hundreds of families for whom relief cannot come soon enough.”

In March of 2011, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club filed a petition with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, contending that the Valley Power Plant’s air permit violated the Clean Air Act. At the same time, Clean Wisconsin also worked with its partners the Cleaner Valley Coalition, which includes health, environmental, civil rights, faith and community organizations, to pressure We Energies to clean up the plant.

This morning We Energies announced it would file an application with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to convert the plant to natural gas. The company predicts the conversion to be completed in 2015 or 2016 if approval is received.

“The Valley plant has been polluting downtown Milwaukee’s air for far too long,” said Walter. “Today’s announcement is welcome news that Milwaukee can look forward to a cleaner, healthier future.”