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New Wisconsin power plant burns wood, sawdust

  • Associated Press
  • November 11, 2013 - 6:20 PM

ROTHSCHILD, Wis. — A new power plant that burns wood and sawdust is now producing power at Domtar Corp.'s paper mill in north-central Wisconsin, We Energies said Monday.

The Milwaukee-based utility said the $268 million renewable energy project went into commercial operation on Friday.

The biomass plant burns wood, waste wood and sawdust to produce up to 50 megawatts of electricity, while also supplying steam for use by the paper mill in Rothschild.

"The addition of the biomass plant enables us to produce renewable energy on demand," We Energies chairman and chief executive Gale Klappa said in a statement. "That benefit is simply not available with solar or wind generation."

Having the power plant complete and running was an important milestone for We Energies to meet in order to qualify for a federal tax credit that would reduce the amount paid by utility customers for the project, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1gDKjIB ) reported.

Construction of the plant began in June 2011. The Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved the project that year. While the project is more expensive than a wind farm, the commission found that the higher cost was justified because of the ability to generate power on demand rather than when the wind is blowing.

We Energies built the power plant to comply with Wisconsin's renewable energy mandate, which requires the utility to generate 8.2 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015 and to keep renewable sources at that level if overall demand for power grows.

We Energies will turn over the plant to Domtar later this month. A utility spokesman says Domtar employees will be in charge of operating the plant day-to-day.

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