A partnership between Milwaukee-based utility We Energies and paper mill owner Domtar Corporation has resulted in the successful operation of a biomass power plant in Rothschild in north-central Wisconsin. The renewable energy project burns wood, waste wood, and sawdust to generate 50 MW of electricity, and also provides steam for use by the paper mill. Domtar Corp. will be in charge of day-to-day operations starting December 2013.
The $268 million project is more expensive than a wind farm, but was ultimately approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission due to the biomass plant’s ability to generate power on demand.
The new power plant qualifies for a federal tax credit that reduces the amount paid by utility customers for the project. It also allows We Energies to meet Wisconsin’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires the utility to generate 8.2% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015. The utility now expects it will be in compliance with Wisconsin’s RPS through 2022.