MGE to retire coal-fired Columbia Energy Center by 2024

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Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) has announced plans to retire the 1.1GW coal-fired Columbia Energy Center near Portage, Wisconsin, US.

MGE is a minority owner of the plant that is co-owned by Alliant Energy and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group.

The Columbia Energy Center, which is operated by Alliant Energy, consists of two generating units, where were commissioned in 1975 and 1978.

Now, the plant owners plan to retire the Unit 1 by the end of 2023 and Unit 2 by the end of 2024.

However, final retirement dates for the two units are subject to additional state and regional regulatory reviews.

The retirement of the Columbia Energy Center is expected to contribute to MGE’s efforts to increase the use of cleaner energy sources and deep carbon reductions.

MGE is targeting carbon reductions of 65% by 2030.

“MGE announced several years ago it was transitioning away from coal, and this has been a priority since we established our ambitious carbon reduction goals, both in 2015 and our net-zero goal almost two years ago,” said MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler.

In May 2019, MGE announced plans to achieve net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.

The company has announced an estimated investment of $400m in clean energy projects since 2017. Upon completion, the projects are expected to increase MGE’s owned renewable capacity by almost 675% by the end of 2022.

“We’re doing everything we can today to lower carbon emissions as quickly and as cost-effectively as we can,” said Keebler.

“This plan helps us to manage energy costs for customers and maintain reliability while working toward industry-leading carbon reduction targets.”