Wis. governor says no to coal for power
Aug 1, 2008 - Scott Bauer -The Associated
Gov. Jim Doyle's announcement Friday that
Wisconsin will stop using coal at its power plants in Madison
was hailed as a pivotal victory for the environment that
makes the state a leader in seeking clean energy alternatives.
"This is great news," said Jennifer Feyerherm,
director of the Sierra Club's clean energy campaign. The
national environmental group that sued the state last year
over pollution violations at one of its plants.
"The writing is on the wall for coal in Wisconsin,"
She said the decision will mean a 40 percent
reduction in emissions of sulfur dioxide, a primary component
of soot pollution, in the county where Madison is located.
Doyle said the state needs to lead by example
by moving to eliminate coal use at its three plants in Madison.
The announcement means that a 1950s-era plant
and one built in 1902 will have to be shut down and refitted
to burn something other than coal, Feyerherm said.
The state and university are examining the
options, including cost and impact on the environment, to
see whether the plants can be retooled or need to be shut
down, said Linda Barth, spokeswoman for the state Department
The approval process for whichever option
is selected starts with the filing of a Clean Air Act permit
in November, she said.
"This is truly welcome, significant news and
is another important step to ensuring Dane County citizens
are able to breathe clean, safe air," said county executive
Kathleen Falk. "This is the right thing for our public health."
Thirteen alternatives to burning coal are
outlined in a state study that was released Friday. Another
option outlined is creating a new heating plant. The study
was ordered as part of a settlement reached with the Sierra
Club over the lawsuit it filed.
A federal judge agreed that the Charter Street
Power Plant in Madison had been operating illegally for
years because state officials upgraded the plant without
obtaining the permits required and therefore avoided installing
Under the settlement, state officials agreed
to immediately reduce coal use at the plant by 15 percent
and do the study.
State and university officials are reviewing
the study to develop a plan for heating and cooling the
state and university buildings in Madison with a goal of
including the changes in the budget early next year, the
governor's office said.
A separately formed task force Doyle created
to study global warming also called for cutting greenhouse
gas emissions to 2005 levels within the next six years,
and reducing that by another 75 percent by 2050.
Moving away from coal at the power plants
is consistent with that recommendation, Doyle's office said.
A 2006 law requires state agencies and university
campuses to purchase 20 percent of their energy from renewable
sources by the end of 2011.
The lawsuit settlement also requires the state
to review all maintenance projects at 12 coal-fired plants
dating back to 1995 to see whether they complied with all
state and federal regulations. The state would be required
to fix any violations by instituting pollution controls,
using different energy sources or replacing the plants by
The state operates 32 heating plants but only
15 use coal, most in conjunction with natural gas, Barth
said. The Charter Street plant in Madison accounts for 60
percent of the coal used in state-owned heating plants,