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Great Lakes Article:

Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees to hear power plant appeal
Associated Press
Published in the Duluth News Tribune January 5th, 2005

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to take up a lawsuit seeking to stop construction of two coal-fired power plants on the Lake Michigan shore in southeastern Wisconsin.

The state Public Service Commission and We Energies asked the court last month to directly overturn a ruling from Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan, who said state regulators were too quick to approve We Energies' application to construct the new plants near its existing coal-fired generators in Oak Creek.

Flanagan said the commission failed to require the company to get necessary permits or force it to study alternate plans for the $2.15 billion project.

The Supreme Court agreed to allow the case to bypass the state appeals court and scheduled oral arguments March 30.

The PSC and We Energies claim Flanagan's ruling could substantially delay work on the coal-fired generators, driving up ratepayers' bills and crippling the state's power grid. Construction was slated to begin in early 2005.

The company also argues the state could face a capacity shortfall of nearly 1,000 megawatts without the plants. That would force more reliance on natural gas-produced power, driving up fuel costs and creating competition for winter heating fuel.

The environmental group Clean Wisconsin and S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. of Racine filed the lawsuit to stop the plants.

Opponents have expressed concerns about air pollution from the use of coal as fuel and the utility's plan to withdraw 2.2 billion gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan, run it through boilers to generate electricity and return it to the lake 15 degrees warmer.


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