- Alliant Energy Corp. has asked state regulators for approval of a $150 million installation of selective catalytic reduction equipment at one of the Columbia Energy Center coal burning units, the latest in Alliant’s $900 million upgrade to the facility to keep it in compliance with current and future federal emissions rules.
- A $627 million upgrade to cut 90% of the Columbia unit’s sulfur dioxide, mercury, and other emissions is almost complete, and the proposed catalytic reduction installation, which would begin in 2016 and be completed in 2018 if approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, would cut 50% of the unit’s nitrogen oxide emissions.
- The proposed retrofit would provide hundreds of jobs and while Alliant's Wisconsin Power & Light ratepayers would bear $70 million of the cost, partner Wisconsin Public Service Corp.’s ratepayers would take on $48 million and partner Madison Gas and Electric Co. ratepayers would cover $33 million.
A pollution control settlement between WPL and the U.S. EPA and Sierra Club Beyond Coal attorneys requires it to perform the upgrades at the one Columbia unit and shutter its older Cassville coal-burning plant but imposes no requirements on the other Columbia unit.
Customer advocates are questioning the cost-effectiveness of such a costly retrofit investment at the early 1970s era Columbia plant.
Alliant already received approval to install $130 million steam turbines and pulverizers at Columbia and for $19 million already-installed cooling towers and may undertake a $20 million transformer replacement that would push the total cost of the Columbia retrofit to almost $950 million.
Alliant says studies show the retrofit is more cost-effective than shuttering the plant and replacing it with a new natural gas plant or building a mix of natural gas and wind generation.