WEC Energy Group to replace Wisconsin coal plant with 350MW of solar

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Shutting down the Pleasant Prairie coal plant will help WEC achieve its goal of cutting carbon emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030. Image: Martin Abegglen / Flickr

Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group, the parent company of Wisconsin utility We Energies, will shut down the 1,190MW coal-fired Pleasant Prairie facility and replace it with a 350MW PV facility, per the BizTimes Milwaukee.

Cathy Schulze, spokeswoman for WEC Energy Group, told the BizTimes: “The energy market is changing. All of those factors contributed to the decision to retire the (Pleasant Prairie) plant.”

Shutting down the Pleasant Prairie coal plant will help WEC achieve its goal of cutting carbon emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030. The company expects to add the 350MW PV project by 2020.

WEC Energy Group also plans to shut down coal power plants in both Green Bay and Presque Isle, Michigan — with the Michigan facility set to be replaced with two new natural gas installations.

Local environmental group Clean Wisconsin praised WEC Energy’s decision to replace a coal facility with a PV installation.

The group noted in a statement: “This is a great step for WPS and WE Energies from coal and toward solar power, and it is a big win for Wisconsin. They are recognizing that the future of energy is clean, local, and renewable. As the largest investment of clean energy in our state, this will create local jobs and bolster our economy while safeguarding public health and sustaining clean air and natural resources.

“Politicians in Madison and Washington keep looking at the energy sources of the past. We’re glad to see WEC looking forward, understanding that switching from dirty fuels like coal to clean energy is the right thing to do both economically and environmentally. With the transition to the future of energy in Wisconsin, our air will be cleaner, our kids healthier, and our state will run more on cost-effective, locally-sourced energy.

“We applaud this transition while knowing this is only the first of many steps towards a robust clean energy economy in Wisconsin. We expect that this will set the bar for other utilities in the state to meet in the near future.”

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