- Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin Power & Light subsidary filed with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for permission to build a $750 million hybrid natural gas-solar power plant to replace coal facilities it is shuttering. It is the company’s first new plant proposal since the commission rejected a 2008 coal facility request, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.
- The 650 MW natural gas facility would be supplemented by an adjacent $9 million, 2 MW solar array. Though small by national standards, the solar project would be Wisconsin’s second biggest, after software maker Epic Systems’ 2.2 MW installation.
- Ratepayer advocates Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and Clean Wisconsin said the state has had excess generation capacity for 10 ten years and the commission should carefully evaluate both the Alliant proposal and Wisconsin Public Service Corp’s proposed $517 million natural gas facility.
Alliant’s filing reported 30% of its electricity is generated by plants that face shuttering or is purchased from other utilities.
"Demand for electricity is not growing," said CUB Executive Director/General Counsel Kira Loehr. "Before we go spending over $1 billion in ratepayer money to build new [power plants], we need to make sure we're making maximum use of the ones we already have."
The Wisconsin Utilities Association, which represents the state’s electricity and natural gas providers, recently endorsed an effort at the state legislature to defund CUB.
"Integrating solar and natural-gas generation is a new technology application for us," Alliant Wisconsin President John Larsen said. "The solar component will give us a chance to refine our understanding of utility-scale renewables."
If approved, construction would begin in 2016. Though the plant would not go online before 2019, Wisconsin Power & Light ratepayers would likely see 3% to 5% rate increases beginning in 2017, their first increases from new power plant construction since 2010.