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Monday, February 22, 2010

We Energies open house draws a crowd to discuss biomass plant

From an article by Megan Loiselle in the Wausau Daily Herald:

ROTHSCHILD -- A power plant that has its sights set on this village of 5,390 people has some residents singing its praises and others crying, "Not in my backyard."

WE Energies plans to build a $250 million power plant that burns low-quality and unusable wood and paper waste, powering the Domtar paper mill and providing electricity to homes in portions of Wisconsin. The plant still needs state approval before construction can begin, but WE Energies is hopeful it will be up and running by fall 2013.

About 300 people streamed in and out of a conference room during a WE Energies-sponsored open house Saturday at the Holiday Inn & Suites seeking answers about how the plant would affect their quality of life -- and how many new jobs it would bring to the area.

According to WE Energies, the biomass plant would not only create new jobs, it would bring in shared revenue from the state depending on how much energy is created. The project would create 400 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs. It also will help Wisconsin reach its goal of having 10 percent of all energy produced using renewable resources by 2015 -- a goal established in Gov. Jim Doyle's Clean Energy Wisconsin Plan.

The plant would cut dependence on fossil fuels, reduce acid rain and be nearly carbon-neutral, according to the environmental advocacy group Clean Wisconsin and the U.S. Forest Service.

John Klosinski, 55, of Rothschild said he supports the biomass plant because it will create jobs for people who have been hit hard by the economy.

"I think it's great," Klosinski said. "I've been working half time for over a year ... I'm not concerned about the emissions or the noise."

About 10 residents stood outside the conference room and passed out information with a list of their concerns about the smell, sound and emissions the biomass plant would bring with it.

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