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We Energies granted approval to build biomass plant

Construction on a biomass-fired power plant can now begin in Wisconsin, US, after utility firm We Energies was granted final approval for its $255 million (€180 million) plant on 12 May 2011.

We Energies needed a decision by the week ending 13 May 2011 if it is to remain on schedule and finish building the project by late 2013.

However, despite approval, the firm has not yet decided whether it will go ahead with construction. We Energies and partner Domtar Corp. are said to be reviewing the conditions attached to the deal that are looking to drive down costs for utility customers.

Although We Energies is already meeting customer demand, it has proposed to build the plant, located in Rothschild, at the Domtar paper mill, because of mandates stating 8.25% of its power must derive from renewables by 2015.

If the company decides against building the plant, executives at We Energies are said to want to discuss alternative options for the company. These are reported to include the possibility of complying with requirements at a later date.

But as commissioner Lauren Azar explains: 'The vast majority of our utilities have already complied with it. It would be unfair for the other utilities if they went ahead and made investments to comply with the state's renewable target in a timely manner and We Energies did not.'