A settlement was announced Monday among federal authorities, the Sierra Club and Madison, WI-based Alliant Energy Corp.’s Wisconsin Power and Light (WPL) utility that eventually may result in replacing 270 MW of coal-fired electric generation with natural gas-fired units.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreement dates back to 2009 when WPL was served with an EPA notice of violation, alleging that the utility’s past modifications to three coal-fired plants (Columbia, Edgewater and Nelson Dewey stations) bypassed the appropriate pre-construction review/permitting requirements from the federal agency. In September 2010, the Sierra Club filed complaints against the utility in the U.S. District Courts for Western and Eastern Districts of Wisconsin, making similar allegations.

As it had previously announced as part of a resource strategy submitted to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) last year, WPL as part of the settlement has committed to retiring by the end of 2015 three older, less-efficient coal-fired generation units — two at Nelson Dewey (200 MW), one at Edgewater (70 MW) — and either convert to natural gas or retire a second unit at Edgewater (Unit 4), which is about 300 MW, by the end of 2018.

In addition, the utility has agreed to make various investments in emissions control technology at units staying in operation. A pending application at the PSC seeks to place sulfur dioxide (SO2) reduction equipment at Edgewater Unit 5; additional controls on a Columbia unit; and meet more stringent SO2 and nitrogen oxide emission limits on its coal-fired fleet overall.

WPL President John Larsen said the settlement is in line with a strategy WPL has already articulated in its energy resource plans. That strategy calls for more than $1 billion to upgrade the utility’s power plant fleet through 2016.

“[We] plan to transition WPL’s generation fleet to meet customers’ energy needs in a cost-effective manner now and into the future, while continuing to limit emissions and advance renewable energy,” said Larsen.

©Copyright 2013Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.