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Friday, April 1, 2011

PSC ruling is last hurdle Rothschild biomass plant must face

From an article by Kathleen Footy in the Wausau Daily Herald:

ROTHSCHILD -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' approval Monday of a proposed biomass energy plant leaves just one obstacle in the way of the $250 million project.

The state's Public Service Commission, including new Chairman Phil Montgomery, is a three-member panel charged with regulating the state's utilities and vetting new construction projects. The PSC will rule on whether the power plant -- a joint project of Milwaukee utility We Energies and Domtar Paper -- would serve customers and residents well.

PSC regulators can schedule a meeting on the proposal at any time. The commissioners typically discuss cases at an open meeting in Madison, then finalize an order to be voted on at their next meeting.

Opponents of the Rothschild project, who feel out of options since comments to the PSC are closed, plan to push for the DNR to create a safeguard against emissions from the plant.

Rob Hughes, a member of the citizens group Saving Our Air Resources, or SOAR, said he was disappointed by the DNR's decision. Hughes said the DNR should move its air-quality monitoring station in Marathon County from Lake DuBay to Rothschild to guarantee residents' safety.

"It shouldn't be a big deal since they say the air will be safe," Hughes said. "That would reassure the community that 'Yes, the air is safe.' I think that's the best we can hope for."

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