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Lawsuit filed over power plant conversion

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  A group that represents Wisconsin utility customers is suing state regulators. The Citizens Utility Board wants a judge to throw out a decision made in January by the Public Service Commission, to have We Energies' electric customers pay for a Milwaukee power plant's conversion from coal to natural gas. The plant provides steam for customers in downtown Milwaukee, including Marquette University and the Aurora Sinai Medical Center.

The citizens board, or CUB, filed its suit in Dane County. It says all of We Energies' electric customers should not have to help pay for the $80-million power plant conversion -- and only the ones that buy the plant's steam should have to foot the bill.

CUB acting director Kira Loehr says We Energies' steam customers are only paying 8-percent of the tab. The group also said the plant's electricity would cost $185-million more than the market price for power during the plant's remaining life.

We Energies is not commenting on the new lawsuit. The company previously said the conversion would eventually save money because it would cost up to $180-million to improve the electric transmission network if the plant were to shut down.