MADISON – Today the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Public Service
Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) released a report that says a new clean coal technology,
integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC), holds promise as part of Wisconsin’s next
generation of baseload power plants.
“Global warming is real and its effects are real,” according to PSC Chairperson Dan Ebert.
“This report will provide valuable guidance for both the Commission and the Task Force on
Global Warming Governor Doyle recently announced.”
“What we do to combat global warming makes a difference, and this is an issue that’s at the
forefront of what we’re doing as an agency,” DNR Secretary Scott Hassett said. “Under
Governor Doyle’s leadership, Wisconsin is moving forward in developing new technologies and
investing in renewable energy. This report is another resource we can use in our efforts to curb
Commissioner Mark Meyer served as the PSC Co-Chair of the IGCC Study Group that helped
develop the report. He said, “When we consider building a baseload power plant, we are looking
at a long-term investment that will be serving Wisconsin customers for the next 50 years. The
investment has to make sense for ratepayers and fit into future environmental strategies to
contain carbon. The report sheds light on how IGCC may fit into Wisconsin’s future energy and
The report provides a cost and benefit analysis of IGCC technology. It shows that if Congress
enacts legislation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, the cost of electricity
generated from an IGCC power plant is competitive with the cost of electricity produced from
conventional coal-fired power plants. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas and is
emitted mainly from power plants and automobiles.
“Controlling carbon dioxide is the wild card in this analysis,” said Al Shea, DNR Air and Waste
Administrator and DNR Co-Chair of the Study Group. “Both in terms of our understanding of
technology options and federal regulations – these factors have the potential to change the draft
“This report candidly describes the challenge we face in our efforts to tackle climate change and
still provide low-cost reliable electricity for Wisconsin consumers,” Commissioner Bert Garvin
said. “With the rising costs of electricity that we’ve seen over the years as environmental policy
continues to drive our energy choices, this report shows why clean coal technologies are
important to Wisconsin’s energy future.”
The report explores IGCC technology and the pluses and minuses to adopting the technology in
Wisconsin. Other findings in the report include:
• Carbon sequestration poses challenges. Wisconsin is not rich in sites to store the carbon
dioxide that is captured in the IGCC process. Transportation options to viable storage
sites would probably need to be developed.
• Financing concerns exist. Since IGCC is such a new technology, with only two IGCC
power plants operating in the U.S., it may not be financially feasible for one utility to
take on the costs of constructing an IGCC power plant in Wisconsin.
IGCC uses high pressure and temperature to transform coal into a gas prior to combustion. The
resultant gas can be cleaned of pollutants prior to firing in a turbine. Conventional coal
technology burns coal in a boiler, and pollutants must be stripped out after combustion in the
exhaust, which is both a more difficult and expensive process. IGCC also has lower emissions of
sulfur dioxide, which contributes to haze, acid rain and the formation of fine particulate
“I want to thank all of the study group participants who took time out of their busy schedules to
explore the prospects of IGCC technology and lent their expertise to help develop this report,”
Commissioner Meyer said. The report was requested by the Governor as part of his Conserve
Wisconsin agenda. Development of the report was conducted jointly by the DNR and PSC in
consultation with a study group of experts representing environmental groups, consumer groups,
industry, labor and utilities. The study group met through 2005 and 2006 to explore the potential
of IGCC technology for Wisconsin.
The final report is available at: http://psc.wi.gov/CleanCoal/comments.htm.