A three year legal battle over a water intake structure at an Oak Creek power plant ends with a settlement agreement that will provide $100 million for Lake Michigan protection projects.
At issue in the suit, a "once-through" cooling system at the coal-fired power plant owned by We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, and Wisconsin Public Power. Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club filed suit after the Department of Natural Resources issued a permit allowing the use of that once-through cooling system. "If the advocates would have prevailed, this could have cost the utility $500 million to a billion dollars." says Clean Wisconsin Executive Director Mark Redsten. Instead, the utilities will fund four million dollars per year from 2010 through 2035 for projects to address water quality issues in Lake Michigan. Redsten says that will alleviate some of the negative impacts of the cooling system.
Other terms of the settlement: We Energies will retire two coal-fired units at Presque Isle, Michigan and ask the Public Service Commission for approval to construct 50 megawatts of 100 percent biomass-fueled power in Wisconsin.