Alliant Energy announced we will close our two remaining coal plants in Wisconsin: the Edgewater Generating Station in Sheboygan, WI, and the Columbia Energy Center near Portage, WI. We will retire the Edgewater Generating Station by the end of 2022 and the Columbia Energy Center by the end of 2024.
Working closely with community leaders, our team seeks to transform these retired coal-burning facilities into valuable community assets. In 2020, we partnered with Beloit College to transform a retired coal-burning facility into The Powerhouse, a new gateway to downtown Beloit along the city’s riverfront.
Robust infrastructure creates prime locations for industry
Once remediated, these two sites present exciting redevelopment opportunities. They each have heavy electrical infrastructure in place, and offer easy access to freshwater, level three fiber and two key markets: Madison and Milwaukee.
Retired coal plant properties can easily be adapted into data centers without saddling the new tenant with upfront costs or reduced efficiencies. Larger bays with efficient floor plates and weight capacity to support high-density server racks allow for scalability, efficiency and flexibility. Critical factors include ample and reliable power along with cooling capacity. They are designed to withstand severe weather conditions. Physical security measures such as perimeter–fencing with surveillance cameras are already installed on-site.
The physical layout of these facilities can also be easily repurposed for indoor vertical farming: Bays with high ceilings can accommodate vertically stacked layers, artificial lights and rotating beds to maximize crop output. Situated at the epicenter of eight large regional/national grocery retailers’ perishable distribution centers offers the best hope for scaling of profitability.
1. Edgewater Generating Station – Sheboygan, Wisconsin
The Edgewater Generating Station is a 265-acre site that currently generates 380 MW of energy in Sheboygan. Sheboygan is located roughly 50 miles north of Milwaukee and 64 miles south of Green Bay. The plant sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and is just minutes from Interstate 43. Approximately 48,000 people live in Sheboygan, with more than 115,000 people within the greater metropolitan area.
2. Columbia Energy Center – Columbia, Wisconsin
The Columbia Energy Center is a 3,000-acre site that currently generates over 1,100 MW of energy in Columbia County. The facility is just outside of Portage, which is 35 miles north of Madison. The plant is located on the Wisconsin River, just minutes from Interstates 90/94 and Interstate 39. Portage is the closest city to the plant. An estimated 10,400 people live in Portage. The city is part of the greater Madison metropolitan area, with a population of roughly 665,000 people.
Advancing our clean energy future
Decommissioning our remaining Wisconsin coal plants – and adding new solar facilities – are a part of Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint. We will add another 414 megawatts (MW) of solar in Wisconsin. The six projects we recently submitted to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for approval move us closer to our goal to generate 1,000–MW of solar electricity by the end of 2023.
As we move forward with our sustainable energy plan, Alliant Energy has set a clean energy vision that aspires to reach net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050. We plan to eliminate coal from our generation fleet by 2040.