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Wisconsin PSC approves We Energies plant conversion to natural gas

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - A power plant that mostly provides steam to customers in downtown Milwaukee will burn cheaper natural gas instead of coal.

The state Public Service Commission Thursday approved the conversion of a We Energies' plant just west of the downtown to natural gas fueling.

The panel told ordered the utilities' electric customers throughout eastern Wisconsin to pay for the $69 million upgrade -- and not the downtown Milwaukee customers that predominantly use the facility.

State commissioners said they didn't want to force downtown customers to pay large rate increases, considering Milwaukee's unemployment rate. They said electric users throughout Wisconsin would still benefit, because they won't have to pay up to $180 million in closing costs if the Milwaukee plant in the Menomonee Valley was to shut down.

Officials said the plant needed to be improved in order to comply with rules for using modern pollution controls. Marquette University is among 450 downtown Milwaukee customers which use steam from the Valley plant.  

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)