Friday, August 8, 2008

Utilities Settle For $105 Million In Cooling Water Dispute

Aug 6: A three-year legal battle over the water intake structure at the Elm Road Generating Station (ERGS) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, ended with a settlement agreement that will provide $100 million for Lake Michigan protection projects over a 25 year period and take significant steps to address global warming including a $5 million investment.

Mark Redsten, executive director at Clean Wisconsin, the state's largest environmental advocacy organization.Mark Redsten, executive director at Clean Wisconsin, the State's largest environmental advocacy organization said, "This settlement provides the long-term commitment of resources necessary to help find solutions to many of the issues Lake Michigan faces today." Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club filed suit after the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a permit allowing the use of a once-through cooling system at the coal-fired power plant. The organizations held that once-through cooling did not represent the best available technology for cooling the plant and thus should not be permitted. Under the settlement agreement, the groups will withdraw all legal opposition to the permit.

We Energies, Madison Gas & Electric and Wisconsin Public Power announced a significant new commitment to environmental initiatives. They include reductions in greenhouse gases, investments in additional renewable energy resources, funding to protect Lake Michigan’s ecosystem and the retirement of older, less-efficient generation. Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive officer of We Energies said, “Coupled with other initiatives we have under way, our three utilities are taking a leadership role in providing cost effective energy, maintaining fuel diversity and protecting the environment.

The commitments announced include:

  • Greenhouse gas emission reductions – Support legislation to increase Wisconsin’s Renewable Energy Standard to 10 percent by 2013 and 25 percent by 2025, as found in the Final Report of the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force
  • Long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions – invest $5 million to implement projects consistent with the Final Report of the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force
  • Biomass generation – seek regulatory approval to construct 50 megawatts (MW) of non-food crop biomass generation in Wisconsin
  • Solar generation – seek regulatory approval for 15 MW of new solar generation which would be developed by providing incentives for customers to install solar capacity, purchasing solar energy output from other generators or constructing solar generation facilities
  • Protect Lake Michigan – seek regulatory approval to dedicate $4 million annually for 25 years toward projects that will address water quality issues in Lake Michigan such as invasive species, polluted runoff, toxic loadings and habitat destruction
  • Retire older less-efficient coal – retire an additional 116 MW of coal capacity from two generating units at the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan by no later than the end of 2012
  • Conservation and energy efficiency for public buildings – invest in energy efficiency projects for public buildings that are consistent with the recommendations of the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force
  • Reporting of greenhouse emissions – provide useful information to customers and the public regarding annual greenhouse gas emissions

Access a release from We Energies (click here). Access a release from Clean Wisconsin (click here).