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It's finally here: Tell the PSC: Clean Up the Valley Coal Plant

Valley Coal Plant Hearing:
Thursday, November 14, 2013
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Ambassador Hotel, Embassy Room
2308 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

As you know, the Valley coal plant is one of the dirtiest plants in the state, yet sits in Wisconsin’s most populated city. Many have grown deeply concerned and have spoken out over the increase in cases of asthma and respiratory illnesses in children and the elderly in Milwaukee, particularly within the African-American, Latino and lower-income communities. This conversion is a HUGE win for the community as it reduces the pollution that leads to asthma, respiratory illness, and cardiovascular disease.Last summer, We Energies finally announced its plans to convert the dirty coal plant to cleaner natural gas.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) must give the final OK before the plant can be converted. This Thursday, November 14 the PSC is holding a hearing to determine if it should approve the conversion. Attend the hearing and support the conversion of the Valley Coal Plant.

RSVP NOW TO ATTEND THE HEARING!

CAN'T ATTEND THE HEARING? You can submit comments to the Public Service Commission here: http://psc.wi.gov/apps40/ERF_public/comment/filecomment.aspx?util=6630&case=CU&num=101.

If you have questions, comments, concerns, or would like more information, please e-mail Elizabeth.ward@sierraclub.org.

Talking Points for your Comment or Testimony:

Support the conversion to natural gas:

  • The Menominee Valley Coal Plant is one of the oldest and dirtiest plants in Wisconsin.
  • The conversion to natural gas will help clean up Milwaukee's air, water, and overall public health.
  • The soot and smog discharged from the We Energies Menomonee Valley Coal Plant create unnecessary health costs for asthma attacks, coronary heart disease (CHD) and strokes.
    • The average cost per hospitalization is higher in the community surrounding the plant at 2% higher for asthma, 27% higher for CHD and 26% higher for stroke. In 2011 the cost of hospitalizations for asthma, CHD and stroke was more than $65.7 million for the community surrounding the Valley coal plant.
    • The American Lung Association continuously gives Milwaukee an “F” for air quality.
    • The Valley Coal Plant uses 162 million gallons of water each day to cool the plant. The water that is discharged back into the Menomonee River reaches very high temperatures, which affects both the water quality and aquatic wildlife. Hot water from the coal plants kill about 1 million fish each year during this cooling process, which does not include the fish eggs and larva that get entrapped by or sucked into the existing intake system.
    • Mercury released into the air by burning coal at the Valley Coal Plant falls or runs off the land into the water. This is converted to methylmercury, which moves up the food chain and affects those that eat the fish from the river and its canals. This is highly toxic to the developing nervous systems of fetuses and children. On any given day, you’ll see Milwaukee residents fishing in the Menomonee River and its canals. These residents are ingesting high levels of methylmercury from contaminated fish several times each week. Although even adults can be adversely affected by methylmercury intake, the greatest impact is on children’s cognitive and other neurological function.
    • Converting the coal plant to natural gas will reduce pollutants locally. According to We Energies’ analysis, greenhouse gas emissions including carbon dioxide, the pollutants causing climate change, will be reduced by 80%. The pollutants responsible for soot and smog will be reduced by 89% or higher.

Support 'decoupling' the plant:

  • We Energies has the option to convert the plant in a way that would allow it to create steam and electricity separately, known as decoupling. 
  • Decoupling would allow steam generation without burning fuel for electricity generation (in times when electricity is not needed). This would mean less fuel would be used at the plant. After the conversion, this will mean less natural gas is being used.
  • Creating electricity that is not needed needlessly pollutes the air, which impacts air quality and human health. Although natural gas is cleaner than coal, burning natural gas still creates pollutants that are discharged to the air, including nitrous oxide, which contributes to the creation of smog.
  • This excess electricity generation also creates hot wastewater that is discharged to area streams, where it harms water quality and creates conditions that are inhospitable for fish and aquatic life for about 20% of the time. This discharge also causes a dead zone or "mixing zone" of approximately 25 acres, which fish must dodge or be killed. Loss of fish (largely during summer months) also affects local subsistence fishermen that rely on fish for essential nutrition. The plant also kills an estimated one million fish per year through entrainment or entrapment when river water is drawn into the plant for cooling. Far less water would be required if the plant was largely only used for steam generation and thus it is also likely that considerable fish deaths could be avoided.
  • Burning unnecessary natural gas for electricity creates greenhouse gases, which are contributing to climate change.

Given that this is the first major improvement to this plant since 1968, now is the time to make the required facility improvements to best protect the environment and public health, and ultimately, the rate payers.