Thirty-eight businesses and organizations file affidavits in support of expedited review
MILWAUKEE – We Energies today filed a motion for a direct, expedited appeal with the Wisconsin Supreme Court of the recent Dane County Circuit Court decision overturning the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s (PSCW) 2003 approval to build two coal-fueled units at We Energies’ existing Oak Creek Power Plant.
“This appeal presents a clear and exigent need for prompt, ultimate judicial resolution of matters involving substantial public importance to Wisconsin,” the filing says. We Energies requested that the Supreme Court, “take jurisdiction of the appeal directly and implement an accelerated briefing and argument schedule that will permit a final decision before April 30, 2005.”
In addition to the We Energies filing, 38 Wisconsin Businesses and Organizations from across the state also are filing affidavits with the Supreme Court in support of an expedited review:
Ace Hardware of Wind Lake
African American Chamber of Commerce
Allegra Print and Imaging
Alloy Welding and Sheet Metal
Aurora Health Care
Bert Jensen and Sons
Fox Cities Chamber
Havenwood Homes of Racine
International Production Specialists
Metropolitan Builders Assoc.
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
Milwaukee Building Trades
Milwaukee Urban League
Municipal Electric Utilities of Wis.
Racine Heat Treating
Richlonn’s Tire & Service
Utility Workers Coalition
Wis. Center Dist.
Wis. Community Advocates
Wis. Paper Council
Wis. Underground Contractors Assoc.
Wis. Utilities Association
Wisconsin Builders Assoc.
Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives
Wisconsin Merchant’s Federation
In the filing, We Energies cited paramount public interests that warranted the direct and expeditious consideration of this appeal:
· These necessary energy facilities cannot and will not be operational within the time frame deemed essential by the PSCW.
· Construction costs associated with the facilities will increase drastically, resulting in increased costs that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars for Wisconsin households and businesses.
· The Circuit Court’s novel and erroneous re-writing of PSCW regulations regarding the CPCN application process will undermine the ongoing review process for other energy projects in Wisconsin, resulting in crippling delays and saddling the regulatory agencies with excessive and needless burdens.
· Petitioners will be left to simultaneously pursue an expensive and burdensome new CPCN application process, thereby nullifying, by the sheer consequences of delay, any ability to obtain meaningful appellate relief from the Circuit Court’s erroneous ruling.
According to the appeal, “The Circuit Court’s erroneous and unprecedented interpretation of the Commission’s own rules undermines not just the timely and cost-effective development of these essential generating units, but also debilitates other ongoing (and future) regulatory actions before the Commission that address this State’s energy needs.”
In arguing on behalf of expedited review, the filing noted that, “As this Court has recognized, ‘[a]t times, a petition for bypass will be granted where there is a clear need to hasten the ultimate appellate decision’…this appeal falls squarely within the limited category of cases for which there is a ‘clear need’ that this Court exercise direct review.”
In the Dane County Circuit Court’s decision, the court reaffirmed the PSCW’s finding that there is a critical need for additional electrical generating capacity in Wisconsin. The court also found that the PSCW had properly evaluated the environmental and health impacts. The court did not find fault in the Commission’s decision that the use of coal at Oak Creek was the lowest cost option for baseload power.
If We Energies does not start construction by the end of spring 2005, construction contracts would need to be renegotiated. The cost to customers under a renegotiated contract could be hundreds of millions of dollars
to cover the costs of delay, depending on how long the project is delayed.
The plants are essential to avoid a serious energy shortfall in Wisconsin, and force a much heavier reliance on natural gas for power generation and purchased power. In less than six years unless new generation is built, southeast Wisconsin could face a capacity shortfall of nearly 1000 megawatts. An already constrained transmission system limits the ability to purchase power, and new natural gas plants would rely on significantly higher fuel costs and compete with other gas uses, such as winter heating.
Some matters discussed in this document, including estimates of future earnings, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are subject to various risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Actual results may vary materially. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to: general economic conditions; business, competitive and regulatory conditions in the deregulating and consolidating energy industry, in general, and in the Company’s utility service territories; regulatory decisions; availability of the Company’s generating facilities; changes in purchased power costs, in coal or natural gas prices, and supply availability; the ability to recover fuel and purchased power costs; unusual weather; risks associated with non-utility diversification; obtaining necessary regulatory approvals and investment capital to implement the Company’s growth strategy; the timing and extent to which anticipated synergy benefits from the WICOR merger are realized; disposition of legal proceedings; foreign governmental, economic, political and currency risks; continuation of the common stock repurchase plan and the other cautionary factors described in Wisconsin Energy Corporation’s latest Form 10-K and subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We Energies serves more than one million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and more than one million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. Its energy prices are more than 10 percent below the average for major U.S. cities. We Energies is the trade name of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Gas LLC, the principal utility subsidiaries of Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE: WEC). Visit the We Energies Web site at www.we-energies.com. Learn more about Wisconsin Energy Corporation by visiting www.WisconsinEnergy.com.