Without the project, the utilities would have to shut their jointly owned Columbia Energy Center early because of air pollution laws, the utilities said in a filing posted with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
The utilities want to install dry sulphur dioxide scrubbers and other air pollution control equipment at the plant near Portage, Wisconsin, to cut SO2 emissions by 90%. They also want to change and expand another system to reduce mercury emissions by 90% to comply with state mercury laws.
The proposal is $700 million to $2 billion less expensive than shutting the plant early and finding alternate sources of power supply, the companies said in the filing. The utilities want to start work on the project in the second quarter of 2010 and complete it in 2013.
Some environmental and consumer groups opposed an $830-million pollution control project proposed by We Energies, based in Milwaukee. The groups said the project was too expensive and asked the PSC to shut four units at the Oak Creek plant totaling 1,135 MW. The PSC in June approved the project, finding that the units were the most efficient among We Energies coal-fired plants.