Wisconsin Energy Grid Likely to be Less Coal-Fired in the Future

Wisconsin’s energy production is in line with national trends that show declining use of fossil fuel plants, in particular coal-fired plants. A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information  Administration found nearly all utility-scale power plants in the United States that have been retired over the past decade were powered by fossil fuels. Forty-seven percent of those were coal-fired generators.

The data on retired Wisconsin plants is in line with the national figures. We Energies announced in November it would close the Pleasant Prairie coal plant in Kenosha County in 2018.

Lower Fuel Costs Could Offset We Energies Price Increase

Lower natural gas and coal costs could offset most of a small price hike that is set to hit electricity bills of We Energies customers next year. The utility has filed an application with the Public Service Commission to reduce by more than $17 million the amount it wants to spend for fuel burned in its power plants.
Lower natural gas prices are expected compared with this year, and lower costs to deliver coal by train to Wisconsin are now expected. In addition, the utility is forecasting $8 million in savings because more of the coal burned at its new power plant in Oak Creek will be less-costly coal mined in Wyoming, he said.
The plant was designed to burn coal mined in the eastern United States, but the utility is testing the ability of the plant to burn more western coal. Those reductions offset several increases in costs that the utility is expecting, including $4 million in higher costs to buy power from the Point Beach nuclear plant and higher costs of chemicals used in air pollution control equipment at coal-fired power plants. The fuel-cost savings would amount to 51 cents a month for a typical customer now paying $101.72 a month, according to We Energies.


Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS), has filed with
the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator to retire
two of the four currently operating coal-fired electric
generating units at the J.P. Pulliam Plant in Green Bay,

If approved, Pulliam units 5 & 6 will be retired by July 2015.
The units were built in 1949 and 1951, respectively, and
generate a combined 112 megawatts. Pulliam units 7 & 8, built
in 1958 and 1964 respectively, will continue to operate at the
plant, generating about 200 megawatts. Also operating at the
plant, when needed, is an 82-megawatt natural gas peaking
turbine. Earlier, WPS announced an agreement with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency that called for Pulliam units
5 & 6 to be re-powered, refueled, or retired. Current electric
market conditions include generation from more efficient and
larger coal and natural gas units reducing the opportunities for
Pulliam 5 and 6 to operate.

Alliant Energy Receives Final Approval to Upgrade Columbia Energy Center

Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin utility and its co-owner utility partners
have received final regulatory approval to upgrade the coal
pulverizers and steam turbines at the Columbia Energy Center.
The upgrades approved by the Public Service Commission of
Wisconsin will help lower operating costs and improve the
efficiency and reliability of the generating station located near

“This project will provide direct benefits to customers and
is part of our overall energy resources strategy that puts a
priority on investing in our newer and larger generating
units,” according to John Larsen, President of Alliant
Energy’s Wisconsin utility.


The Columbia Energy Center upgrade project includes replacing
twelve pulverizers and upgrading two steam turbines installed
when the plant was constructed in the 1970s.  Installing this
newer technology is designed to increase the plant’s operating
capacity by nearly 10 percent, bringing more low-cost electricity
to utility customers. Construction of the project is expected to
begin in 2015, with an anticipated completion in 2017.  The
investment in new technology and equipment is expected to be
approximately $130 million and will be shared by Alliant Energy’s
Wisconsin utility and the co-owners: Madison Gas and Electric
Company and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.

United States Sites Two Nuclear Power Plants…

…in India.  Why is it acceptable for United States companies to build $40 billion worth of clean, safe, efficient nuclear energy in India but not Wisconsin?  Because Wisconsin bans new nuclear plants like those we will build for India, we currently have no viable option, other than coal, for the new base-load energy required for economic growth.

“Base-load” power is running all the time.  It’s the reliable, consistent energy we need to run the hospitals, factories, farms and offices when the wind isn’t blowing, the sun isn’t shining and when natural gas is needed to heat our homes.

Regarding the Indian plan, The London Telegraph explains:

” India is desperate to increase its power generating capacity to fuel its growing economy.”

With proposed federal Cap and Trade legislation written to make energy in coal dependent states much more expensive and an outdated nuclear moratorium preventing new nuclear plants, Wisconsin has fewer option to compete than we are giving India.

When India has clean, efficient, safe and reliable American built nuclear plants and Wisconsin has new regulatory costs for our coal generated base-load power, where will our jobs go?

The answer is not to stop India from having access to nuclear energy.  The answer is to ensure Wisconsin has the same options for nuclear power that India has.  We must overturn the Wisconsin Nuclear Moratorium.

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