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Friday, May 13, 2011

We Energies may not meet renewable energy standard

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

We Energies won final approval to build a $255 million biomass power plant in north-central Wisconsin Thursday.

The utility had wanted a decision this week to help it keep on target to complete construction by late 2013.

But the utility hasn’t decided whether it will proceed with the building the plant at this point. Utility spokesman Brian Manthey said We Energies and Domtar Corp., its partner in the project, are reviewing conditions that regulators attached to the deal – conditions that aim to bring down the overall cost of the project for utility customers.

The biomass plant at the Domtar paper mill in Rothschild is being proposed at a time when the utility has enough power to meet the needs of its customers but is required because of the state’s renewable portfolio standard.

That standard, adopted by the state Legislature in 2006, requires that 8.25% of We Energies’ power come from renewable sources by 2015.

If the project does not move forward, We Energies executives told investors last week they would want to have discussions with the Walker administration about alternatives, including a possible way of delaying the company's compliance with the law.

There have been discussions of possible legislation that would help the utility delay the time frame for complying with the law, or it could take advantage of “off-ramps” built into the 2006 law that would allow it more time to comply.

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