Consumer Group: Pleasant Prairie Shutdown Savings Should Go To Ratepayers

But WE Energies Says It Promised To Cut Costs


A consumer group and two business associations want savings from the recent shutdown of a Wisconsin power plant to go to ratepayers.

The Citizens Utility Board, the Wisconsin Paper Council and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group say Milwaukee-based WE Energies cut costs by closing the Pleasant Prairie coal-fired plant in Kenosha County and should not be keeping the money or giving it to shareholders. The groups claim the PSC should set aside millions of dollars for consumers to be figured into a future rate case.

The Citizens Utility Board is asking the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to make sure utility ratepayers enjoy some savings now that the plant is closed. According to the board, the power company didn’t reveal the planned closing prior to last fall’s rate case before the PSC that set WE Energies’ rates for this year.

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CUB’s Tom Content said WE Energies’ savings from not running Pleasant Prairie for the next eight months should go to customers.

“When somebody turns off the lights to save energy, they expect to save energy and save money. Here, they’re closing a power plant,” Content said.

In a statement, WE Energies said it’s living up to a promise:

“During last year’s rate review, we promised to freeze electric rates and provide our customers with price certainty through 2019. To deliver on that promise and maintain our financial integrity, we said repeatedly that we would need to cut costs. We looked at a wide range of alternatives, and we concluded that the best alternative was closing one of our older, less efficient coal-fired plants. The Midwest grid operator approved the closure in December. So, we’re doing exactly what we said we would do – keeping our promise to customers and maintaining the financial health of the business.”