Switchgrass makes the rounds on Capitol Square - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Switchgrass makes the rounds on Capitol Square

Among the traffic along the Capitol Square around lunchtime Wednesday was truck after truck of switchgrass.

Alliant Energy sponsored the event in which four flatbed trucks, each carrying 36 tons of switch and prairie grass, made laps around the Capitol.  The utility did this to bring attention to its proposed plant in Cassville.

That plant would mostly run on coal, but will be designed to also burn 20-percent of biomass to make electricity.  Alliant Energy had said it's intention would be to open the plant with 10-percent biomass, and ramp up to 20-percent.

Environmental consultant Brett Hulsey is also working on the project.   He said there's enough prairie grass like in Wisconsin to ultimately replace half the coal burned in the state.

"This is one way to reduce our dependecy on out of state coal and drity old coal," saud Hulsey.   "By building this flex fuel hybrid plant, that means we don't have to import that 300 megwatts of dirty coal, mostly from Illinois, so I think it's a step in the right direction."

Not everyone was convinced.  Another environment group called Clean Wisconsin protested the event by holding up signs that read 'No More Coal.'

Statements from the group doubt that the plant will always include biomass at any single moment.  The group is also dissatisfied that the plant would still largely run on coal.

The Cassville plant would cost $1.3 billion dollars.  In recent securitie filings, indicated the cost rose by $100 million because of rising equipment and labor costs. It's the second time in recent months the total cost has increased.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has until mid-December on whether to approve the plan.

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