Alliant Energy to ditch coal early, add more solar in Wisconsin


Alliant Energy announced plans to retire the two coal units at the Columbia Energy Center by the end of 2024, meaning the utility would become coal-free in Wisconsin about 15 years ahead of its previous goal.

The 1.1 GW coal plant went into operation in 1975 and is located near Portage, Wisconsin. Alliant Energy co-owns the facility with Madison Gas & Electric and Wisconsin Public Service, a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group.

Collectively, the utility companies intend to retire Unit 1 by the end of 2023 and Unit 2 by the end of 2024, subject to regulatory approvals.

The decision positions Alliant Energy to achieve its Clean Energy Vision, including a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 and eliminating all coal from its generation fleet by 2040.

The plant retirement is also part of the the company’s Clean Energy Blueprint, which includes adding community solar, customer-hosted solar, battery storage pilots, and at least 1 GW of new utility-scale solar in Wisconsin.

Last May, Alliant Energy announced plans to add 675 MW of solar energy generation to its portfolio. In the coming months, the company expects to announce details about the next phase of its solar plans.

“The closure of Columbia is truly a historic moment as we stop burning coal in our Wisconsin operations and fully turn our attention to generating cleaner energy,” said David de Leon, president of Alliant’s Wisconsin energy company.

He added that analysis shows the closure will avoid millions of dollars in long-term costs for customers, and Alliant Energy is dedicated to helping Columbia’s employees and the surrounding community amid the transition.

The decision is the result of Alliant Energy’s comprehensive resource planning process, in which Sierra Club and other stakeholders began participating in 2019.

Sierra Club applauded Alliant Energy for “putting words into action at a critical time.”

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