State regulators agreed late Friday to let We Energies build and operate a 50-megawatt biomass power plant near the Domtar paper mill in Rothschild.
The Public Service Commission voted 3-0 to approve the utility’s request for a certificate of authority. The verbal decision came after more than three hours of debate. Commission staff will draft a written order that the three-member panel will give final approval at its next meeting May 12th.
“We will need to review the conditions that were discussed today by the commission before we can make a final determination on the future of the project,” said We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey.
The project also requires final approval from Domtar’s board of directors.
The project will help We Energies meet a state mandate to have 10 percent of its energy come from renewable sources. Domtar will actually acquire the woody biomass, essentially wood scraps and other forest material, from within a 75-mile radius of the plant.
Building the $255 million facility will create 400 temporary construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs that are needed to supply the fuel.
Domtar agreed Tuesday to nearly double its investment for the project from $25 to $47 million. The move would increase the amount Domtar pays We Energies for steam by 20-percent.