More Wisconsin electric utilities have settled an air pollution case with environmentalists and the Environmental Protection Agency.
In 2010, the Sierra Club sued Alliant Energy along with some of its past and present corporate partners, alleging Clean Air Act violations at some Alliant plants. A settlement announced Monday will lead the company to stop burning coal at its Nelson Dewey facility in southwest Wisconsin. In addition, units will be retired or converted to natural gas at the Edgewater plant in Sheboygan; more sulphur dioxide controls will also be installed. There'll be more nitrogen oxide controls at the Columbia plant near Portage. The Sierra Club's Jennifer Feyerherm says the changes should improve public health: "If you look at Nelson Dewey alone, the EPA data suggests it contributes to over 200 asthma attacks annually. You know, each of our coal plants is pumping out pollution."
Alliant has also agreed to spend up to $5 million on buying solar energy or generating it on its own project within its service territory, and up to $2 million on enhancing wind farms and hydroelectric sites. Another $2 million will go to restoring some land. Other lawsuits over the last few years are leading to changes at power plants owned by Dairyland Power, Wisconsin Public Service and the UW. Feyerherm says, "that means the dirtiest ways we are generating energy are on their way out, and we are turning towards a cleaner energy future in Wisconsin."
However, it appears coal will remain a key part of the state's energy picture, as at the massive WE Energies coal-fired plants near Kenosha and Oak Creek.