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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We Energies files application for biomass plant

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Seeking to expand its renewable power portfolio beyond wind farms, We Energies on Monday filed an application with state regulators to build a $255 million biomass power plant near Wausau.

The project would supply steam to Domtar Corp.'s paper mill in Rothschild and create up to 150 jobs, the utility said in its application to the state Public Service Commission.

The 50-megawatt power plant would generate enough power to supply 40,000 typical homes, We Energies said.

We Energies, which announced the project last fall, said it would like the Public Service Commission to rule on the project by year-end to help it stay on a timeline aimed at the project qualifying for a 30% federal tax credit.

Qualifying for the tax credit would enable the project's cost for the utility and We Energies ratepayers be cheaper, said Brian Manthey, utility spokesman. If the tax credit is available, We Energies projects the project would raise customers' rates by 1% to 1.25%, he said.

It's unclear what the actual dollar impact of the project would be for ratepayers, but at today's rates it would be roughly $1 a month for the typical residential customer.

Construction would start next year and last for about 30 months. The project is expected to create about 400 temporary construction jobs in addition to jobs at the power plant and in the logging and forestry sector.

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