Transitioning from Coal
Power plant agreement consistent with Energy 2030's move away from coal resources.
Under our Energy 2030 framework, we've pledged to continue our transition toward cleaner energy sources, which include renewable resources and natural gas, and move away from coal-fired resources. MGE is already taking steps to reduce our investment in coal.
MGE has negotiated an agreement to reduce our ownership in the coal-fired Columbia Energy Center near Portage, Wis. MGE is a minority owner in the power plant. WEC Energy Group and Alliant Energy are the primary owners of the plant.
The agreement, approved by state regulators in October, reduces MGE's megawatts (MW) from Columbia by 14% (or by about 33 MW). Under the agreement, MGE also will have the option to acquire up to 50 MW of Alliant Energy's Riverside Energy Center. The 700-MW expansion of the natural gas facility near Beloit, Wis., is expected to begin operating in June 2020. MGE will have five years to determine whether we want to purchase any or all of the 50 MW permissible under the agreement.
The agreement with Alliant is significant because it allows MGE to move away from coal, which is consistent with our goals and objectives in Energy 2030, and it allows the company to forgo capital expenditures in the Columbia power plant. It is one step of many toward a cleaner energy future for our community.
As a first step, MGE sought and received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to discontinue the use of coal in 2011 and switch to natural gas generation at our downtown power plant, the Blount Generating Station. MGE is a minority owner in the Columbia Energy Center and Elm Road Generating Station, the two other coal-fired power plants in which MGE has an ownership share.
Reductions in the use of coal to generate electricity help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Energy efficiency and conservation also help to lower emissions by reducing the need to generate as much electricity. Efforts by customers to use energy wisely and to conserve energy were critical in helping MGE lower our carbon emissions under our previous framework, Energy 2015. Between 2005 and 2015, we reduced carbon emissions by 20%. Under Energy 2030, we look to further those reductions to 40% by 2030 from our 2005 levels.
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