More questions raised about proposed Rothschild biomass plant - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

More questions raised about proposed Rothschild biomass plant


ROTHSCHILD (WAOW) -- A stumbling block for those pushing forward with a proposed biomass plant: the Public Service Commission now says they're concerned about money needed to pay for the plant.

Even though specific numbers haven't been set yet, the proposed biomass plant could run between $250 million and $300 million. And much of that money would need to be paid by taxpayers and ratepayers with We Energies and Domtar.

After the DNR gave We Energies and Domtar the go-ahead for the proposed biomass plant in Rothschild, plans seemed well on their way. But now, the state's utility regulators step in to take a closer look.

"It is a very complicated issue," said Paul Schwantes, a Rothschild business owner who is also a member of SOAR. "I'm not surprised that it's taken this long."

This project is already about a year in the works, bringing a heated debate into the Rothschild community. While some look at the biomass plant as an opportunity, others say it's an unnecessary burden.

"Governor Walker has already stopped a couple projects that were a waste of taxpayer money, much like this one is," said Schwantes, "and I'm not surprised that they're taking a second look."

Leaders at the Public Service Commission said they're concerned about the costs to the taxpayers and ratepayers with We Energies and Domtar. Another concern raised was the environmental issue, after a citizen group called Save Our Air Resources (SOAR) brought forward a permit saying the plant would violate the clean air act.

"Domtar representatives attended the Public Service Commission open meeting yesterday and we are reviewing the commissioners' comments," said manager of public affairs for Domtar Craig Timm. "We are working together with We Energies on the appropriate response. We do anticipate a final decision on the project at the next PSC meeting."

"I'm hoping people are taking a second look at this project both because of the costs to the taxpayer, costs to the rate payer and the additional pollution," said Schwantes.

Leaders with We Energies and Domtar have until next week's PSC meeting to figure out the answers to the questions raised. Members of the commission are appointed by the governor, but right now, only one of the three of them has been appointed by Governor Walker.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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