We Energies' Oak Creek Project Blocked by Judge
LCG, November 30, 2004--Yesterday Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan ruled that the Wisconsin Public Service Commission's (WPSC) approval of the Oak Creek project violated state statutes and that the WPSC must restart the approval process. The PSCW approved the construction of the project in November 2003. The project, estimated to cost $2.15 billion, includes two 615-MW, supercritical pulverized coal units and would be the largest coal plant in Wisconsin. The project was opposed in court by Clean Wisconsin Inc., Calpine, S.C. Johnson & Sons Inc., and the City of Oak Creek. We Energies is likely to appeal the decision.Judge Flanagan determined that the application failed to (a) identify at least two alternative locations, (b) define the design of necessary transmission lines and related costs, and (c) include the necessary regulatory permits from the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Furthermore, Judge Flanagan criticized the application for lack of consideration of alternative fuels.General Counsel David Gilles of the PSCW issued the following statement. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) is disappointed by Judge Flanagans decision to vacate the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity approved by the Commission last November....We feel our review process of the application and decision in this case were both thorough and complete. The PSC is currently reviewing the court decision and considering appropriate options to effectively address the courts actions today. Options could range from re-opening the PSC docket in this case to appealing the decision to a higher court. No decision will be made at the PSC until there is more thorough review. The PSC or other parties in the case have 90 days to appeal the decision.The ruling is a major setback for coal advocates, which appeared to be gaining momentum in Wisconsin. In late September, the PSCW approved a new, 500 MW coal-fired unit proposed by Wisconsin Public Service Corp. at its Weston Power Plant near Wausau. The expansion at Weston, where there are three coal units currently operating, is the first project approved by the PSCW under a new law designed to simplify and streamline the approval process. With the new process, the project simultaneously moves through the WPSC and the DNR, rather than sequentially.
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