Wisconsin expected to remain a top
Wyoming coal buyer
Published June 26th, 2004
GILLETTE, Wyo. - Wisconsin will remain one of Wyoming's
top coal customers even as it replaces its aging power
plants, according to one of Wisconsin's utility regulators.
According to the Wyoming Mining Association, Wisconsin
accounts for 6 percent - 22 million tons in 2002 alone
- of Wyoming coal consumption.
But many of Wisconsin's coal-fired plants, some of which
were built in the 1940s, will be due for replacement in
Whether the state will replace the plants with coal-fired
generators or more environmentally technologies remains
to be seen. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
hopes to cut mercury emissions from power plants 75 percent
Ave Bie, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission,
told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday that the goal
of the regulations is to lower the toxicity of fish in
the Great Lakes.
"It's great that the DNR is doing its job,"
she said. "But I don't think it helps us to be an
island, with considerably higher standards than our neighbors."
She said she would like coal to continue providing a
large share of Wisconsin's power-generating ability.
Coal currently provides 54 percent of Wisconsin's power
generation and coal-fired and nuclear plants make up the
vast majority of Wisconsin's electricity portfolio.
The state has 25 coal-fired plants with a combined generating
capacity of over 6,000 megawatts. Twelve of the plants
burn subbituminous coal and five more plants are expected
to be in service by 2010.
Federal regulations might also play a role in coming
years. In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency is expected to issue new limits on power-plant
mercury, possibly a 30-percent cut by 2010.
Producers and users of Wyoming coal have lobbied for
more relaxed standards for the coal found in the Powder
River Basin, which contains elemental mercury.
Industry representatives have said elemental mercury
is prohibitively difficult to remove when coal burns.
But others say technology is available to keep mercury
out of the air.