by David Minor
Alliant Energy held a virtual Informational Meeting on June 23, 2021 to update the Sheboygan community on plans to end coal-fired power generation at the Edgewater Generating Station and redevelop the site.
A presence on the lakeshore south of Sheboygan since the 1920’s, the Edgewater power generation site will be retired at the end of 2022.
Representatives from Alliant Energy and its planning and redevelopment partner, Vandewalle & Associates, a Wisconsin-based planning and consulting company, provided background information, plans, process and time lines to dismantle the power generation station and redevelop the land. The 264-acre parcel, located south of the City of Sheboygan on one-third mile of lakeshore, straddles the City of Sheboygan and the Town of Wilson.
Closing Edgewater is part of Alliant’s Clean Energy Blueprint which calls for eliminating all coal from their generation fleet by 2040 and transitioning to cleaner renewable energy sources. Cost inefficiencies and environmental regulations were driving forces according to company spokespersons.
Rob Gottschalk, of Vandewalle & Associates and Edgewater redevelopment project leader, described work that will occur after the station is closed in late 2022.
Power generating equipment will be removed starting in late 2022 followed by demolition in 2023. After uncoupling transmission lines, the parcel will be cleared and prepared for redevelopment. Work will continue through 2023, Gottschalk noted, adding that site could be ready for redevelopment in 2024.
Determining re-use of the 264-acre site, which includes approximately 100 acres of developable land, emerged as a challenge for the Edgewater Redevelopment team. “We want to be thoughtful about re-use,” Gottschalk noted. An Edgewater Redevelopment community advisory group, comprising 15-20 public and private leaders, is in place to help guide the planning process. As well, elected officials and staff from the City of Sheboygan and the Town of Wilson will have an opportunity to weigh in and represent the interests of their constituents.
In initial consultation with the community advisory group, project leaders shared that no specific plans for re-use have been developed noting that the team is committed to gathering input from all stakeholders. “We want to think big and broadly,” Gottschalk said. Workforce attraction and retention as well as making the Sheboygan area an attractive place to live and work were heard as possible redevelopment themes.
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In related action, Alliant Energy has proposed 12 solar projects, spanning dozens of communities across nine Wisconsin counties including a 150 megawatt plant in southern Sheboygan County.
Collectively, they will add nearly 1,100 MW of solar energy generation to the state’s energy grid – enough to power nearly 300,000 homes.
The company is awaiting a decision from the PSCW on its second set of six projects, which were announced in March 2021.
Once all 12 projects are approved and operational, Alliant Energy will become the largest owner and operator of solar energy in the state of Wisconsin.
“At a time when much is changing, these projects demonstrate our commitment to advancing clean energy and strengthening the communities we serve,” added de Leon. “Most importantly, this investment in solar will provide our customers with reliable, environmentally-friendly energy for decades to come.”
Along with the rest of the Clean Energy Blueprint, these projects will help customers avoid more than $2 billion in long-term costs, the company said in a recent press release.
“They will also provide steady revenue through new construction opportunities, create an estimated 2,000 construction jobs and provide approximately $300 million in revenues to local communities and landowners over an estimated project lifespan of 30 years,” the company said.
“Adding solar throughout Wisconsin also enhances the environmental health of the communities Alliant Energy serves as they transition to a cleaner energy mix.
“All solar construction will be done in a manner that is environmentally sustainable, supports land preservation and provides areas for pollinators to find protection and thrive.”
For more information, visit Alliant Energy’s solar webpage.