PSC to appeal recent ruling on power
Dane County judge nixed two coal facilities near Milwaukee
The Associated Press
Published December 30th, 2004
MILWAUKEE — The state Public Service Commission voted
Tuesday to appeal a ruling overturning approval of plans
to build two coal-fired power plants on the Lake Michigan
shore in suburban Milwaukee.
The ruling halted plans to build the state’s largest
power generator, striking a blow to Wisconsin’s largest
utility and signaling a victory for environmental and
consumer groups that opposed the project.
Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan ruled the PSC
was too quick to approve We Energies’ plan to build two
coal-fired power plants at the site of its existing generating
facilities in Oak Creek.
He said the commission failed to require the company
to get necessary permits or force it to study alternate
plans for the $2.15 billion plant, among other things.
The PSC acted quickly in deciding to appeal his decision,
which ordered state regulators to redo the approval process.
Commission attorney David Gilles said in a written statement
the PSC is worried that construction delays could hurt
the electricity supply in southeastern Wisconsin and drive
up the cost of building a plant.
We Energies also is weighing whether to appeal the ruling,
fix its application or submit a new one for review, any
of which could cause lengthy delays in construction.
“This has the potential for reopening this whole question
of what’s going to be built and where,” said Charlie Higley,
executive director of the utility watchdog group Citizens
CUB has worried the PSC was rushing projects through
too quickly and at too high a cost, Higley said Tuesday.
“They had 360 days to make a decision on a huge project.
So the commission may have been rushed, and we’ve been
concerned that they’ve been rushed and understaffed to
deal with a lot of these proposals,” he said.
But We Energies said the plan was the most studied project
in recent PSC history. The company believes the commission
followed its own rules and was right to approve the plants,
spokesman Thad Nation said.
He said the company, which is part of Wisconsin Energy
Corp., is weighing its options.
Construction was slated to begin in the first quarter
“We have fixed contracts in place on commodities like
steel, concrete, that have all gone up substantially since
the contract was put in place,” he said.
Critics of the project, Racine-based S.C. Johnson &
Son Inc. and the environmental group Clean Wisconsin,
had filed suit to stop it.
Mark Redsten, executive director of Clean Wisconsin,
said the PSC has approved incomplete applications in the
past, and the judge’s decision signals that is no longer