WPS fined, must upgrade power plants - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

WPS fined, must upgrade power plants

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Wisconsin Public Service has agreed to upgrade its power plants in Weston and Green Bay as part of a settlement with the federal government, according to a company news release.

The agreement comes as part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the news release, the EPA accused WPS in November 2009 of failing to obtain proper permits for improvements made to electric generating units.

WPS officials say they don't admit to doing anything wrong.

"We acted then using what we believed to be the proper process for making the improvements," said Terry Jensky, WPS vice president of generation assets, in the news release. "Many utilities across the country followed the same procedures and they have or are now facing similar action from the EPA."

WPS says the settlement will require them to reduce emissions at its Weston Plant as well as its Pulliam Plant in Green Bay.

"Whatever option we take--either installing environmental controls on them, changing the fuel that they burn--they will be cleaner plants," said WPS spokesman Kerry Spees. "The question is, is it worth the cost to make them cleaner, or is it better just to shut them down?"

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, WPS will also pay a $1.2 million fine.

WPS officials also said the settlement allows the company to install new environmental controls at its Weston plant to reduce emissions and other pollutants. WPS says this project will take several years to complete and will bring more than 200 temporary jobs to the Wausau area.

As for reducing emissions at both plants, a WPS spokesman said that may impact some jobs, but no decision has been made yet.

The deadline for WPS to meet the terms of the settlement is June 2015.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report

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