May 2, 2013 / 7:41 PM / 4 years ago

Alliant to upgrade equipment at Wisconsin coal power plant

May 2 (Reuters) - Wisconsin Power and Light, a unit of U.S. power company Alliant Energy Corp, said Thursday it received oral approval from Wisconsin regulators to upgrade emission control equipment at Unit 5 of the Edgewater coal-fired power plant in Wisconsin.

The utility said it expects to begin construction at the 407-megawatt (MW) unit in 2014 and place the emission control equipment in service in 2016.

Alliant said the project would cost about $410 million and is expected to create as many as 400 jobs during peak construction.

The three units at the 787-MW Edgewater plant are located in Sheboygan, about 110 miles (177 km) northeast of Madison, the Wisconsin state capital.

Alliant has said it plans to shut the 70-MW Unit 3 at Edgewater by the end of 2015 and either convert to natural gas or shut the 308-MW Unit 4 by the end of 2018. Unit 3 entered service in 1951, Unit 4 in 1969 and Unit 5 in 1985.

Since 2009, U.S. power companies have announced plans to shut or convert over 50,000 MW of coal-fired plants over the next several years as low natural gas prices have made it uneconomic to upgrade the equipment at some older and less efficient units to meet increasingly strict federal environmental rules.

Pending a written order from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Alliant said it will install a scrubber and baghouse system at Unit 5. That system will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by about 90 percent and significantly reduce fine particulate matter.

Wisconsin Power and Light provides power to about 460,000 customers and natural gas service to about 180,000 customers in Wisconsin.

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