- We Energies proposed a $62 million expansion of the 15-acre, 750,000-ton coal storage area at its Oak Creek power plant to a 30-acre, 1.5 million-ton storage area to the local Oak Tree Planning Commission for approval.
- The utility believes it can make the 1,135 megawatt plant, which was designed to burn now-costly Appalachian coal, more economically viable by storing and using more of the cheaper Wyoming Powder River Basin coal.
- We Energies said the storage will reduce overall operating costs by as much as $9 million to $12 million a year by increasing plant up-time. Citizens' Utility Board, a consumer advocacy group, argues more storage will only make the already too-costly plant more expensive for customers whose bills will pay for the new construction.
The Oak Tree plant was built by We Energies, Wisconsin’s biggest utility, at a cost of $2.3 billion, making it the most expensive construction project in the state’s history
We Energies said customers can expect yearly savings from the increased storage that will vary with the percentage of less costly Wyoming coal it uses.
The utility also said the Oak Tree expansion will give it less coal storage per unit of energy than Wisconsin’s Pleasant Prairie power plant and its Columbia Energy Center, though more than the state’s Weston power plant.
We Energies is reportedly buying up real estate at the perimeter of the Oak Tree plant, probably to head off resident objections to the new construction during the Planning Commission procedures.