LETTERS: Customers should not bail out utility after coal plant mistake

To Ozaukee Press:

A headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday asked, “Should We Energies stockholders make money on shuttered coal plant?”

This issue should concern all We Energies customers because you may be paying money to We Energies and getting nothing in return, but you will be helping to support stockholders.

When I, or anyone else, invests cash to earn money, it’s a gamble. That investment might earn money for me or I might lose money. It’s always a gamble, and I do not expect the public or anyone else to pay me interest on that investment. I take a loss.

When We Energies commissioned the first unit in their Pleasant Prairie power plant, they built it to not only produce electrical energy, but they planned to make profits on the endeavor. They took a gamble. They made loads of profits for many years, but now that they want to shut down the plant they expect customers to continue paying them cash even though the customers are receiving nothing in return.  We Energies should be taking a loss.

When investors buy stock in We Energies’ parent company, they are taking a risk. They may gain as they have in the past, or they might lose as they should in the present situation. Customers should not be penalized by paying for services they are not getting just to maintain the extremely high returns for stockholders and high CEO salaries.

When the Oak Creek Power Plant expanded by constructing two 615-megawatt coal-fueled units, numerous environmental groups, along with Sam Johnson, head of S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc. in Racine, urged We Energies not to construct coal plants, which were known to be the worst polluters in producing electricity. Groups encouraged the utility to rely on alternatives such as efficiency, better insulation and avoiding waste of power, and we believed their research on future energy needs was flawed. At that time the Pleasant Prairie Plant and other plants were producing enough energy for the entire state and additional energy could have been purchased from neighboring plants if necessary.

We Energies and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission decided to ignore our requests and take the gamble to construct the plant. They overbuilt. That was a gamble, and they lost. Should customers have to pay for their bad decisions? Definitely not!

There will be a day when We Energies will be shutting down the coal-fueled Oak Creek power plant because it’s too dirty and too expensive to operate. Will they expect customers to continue paying for their mistakes again? This would truly be a case of corporate welfare.

Utility mismanagement is responsible for this dilemma and customers should not have to pay for any part of that mismanagement. Certainly, stockholders don’t deserve any profits from a business that has failed to consider that the continued burning of fossil fuels will add to greenhouse gases and various toxic pollutants which will ruin the planet as we presently know it.
Wayne Stroessner
Random Lake

 

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494
 

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