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Monday, May 9, 2011

State regulators lend support to biomass project

From an article in the Stevens Point Journal:

ROTHSCHILD -- State regulators indicated support of construction plans for a biomass plant in Rothschild on Friday, a major step in a lengthy and often contentious debate over a $255 million project backed by Milwaukee utility We Energies and Domtar Paper.

Two members of the state's Public Service Commission pushed for and received more concessions from the project's sponsors, concerned that the utility's ratepayers still are taking the biggest risk. We Energies and Domtar either can contribute $10 million more toward operating costs or increase the rate Domtar will pay for steam produced by the plant.

The PSC also will have the authority to review future changes to the rate Domtar pays We Energies for steam, which is used in its paper-making process.

The plant is part of We Energies' effort to meet the state's renewable energy requirements for utilities by 2015, buoyed by federal tax credits available to facilities that are operational by the end of 2013. We Energies has promised the project will create about 400 construction jobs and 150 jobs in Central Wisconsin for industries supporting the plant, and Domtar argues the change will allow them to compete in an increasingly testy paper industry.

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