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Wisconsin cancels biomass boiler plans

The Department of Wisconsin in the US has decided to scrap plans to build a biomass boiler at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, saving up to $100 million (€73.7 million).

The plant was to burn natural fuels such as wood chips and paper pellets in a more environmentally-friendly manner and the project’s cancellation has been criticised by environmental group Sierra Club.

Instead of going ahead with plans to replace outdated coal-fired burners with the new biomass development, the Department of Wisconsin says natural-gas burners will be installed instead.

The Department’s secretary Mike Huebsch said in a statement that the changes to the project were decided as a cost-cutting measure.

He says: 'We have decided not to proceed with the biomass boiler in order to save the state taxpayers money. This decision will immediately save taxpayers about $100 million in capital construction costs.'

He continues: 'The coal fired boilers will be retired by 2012 as planned. We are moving forward with the two natural gas boilers and we will be studying the alternatives for meeting the campus need for steam into the future.'

The Department said natural gas was still a lot cleaner than coal and that the move was improving air-pollution. Originally, Sierra Club brought a lawsuit against the Department two years ago for violating air-pollution laws, prompting the biomass boiler plans.

However, Sierra Club said the decision to scrap the plans for a biomass boiler was short sighted because it was stopping the ability to create more local jobs and greener infrastructure in the area.