Home / Environment / Walker wants to stop work on Charter Street Power Plant conversion (UPDATE)

Walker wants to stop work on Charter Street Power Plant conversion (UPDATE)

By James Briggs

Gov.-elect Scott Walker on Thursday requested Department of Administration Secretary Daniel Schooff reverse course on a series of Gov. Jim Doyle’s initiatives.

Among them, in a letter hand-delivered to Schooff’s office, Walker asked the secretary to “begin making plans to shift to natural gas rather than bio-fuel at the Charter Street Power Plant” in Madison.

The state is in the middle of a $250 million project that will convert the Charter Street plant, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, from a coal-burning operation to one that generates electricity using biomass and natural gas.

It is unclear based on Walker’s letter whether he understood the plant would be producing energy using natural gas, or if he was calling for a complete halt to any use of biomass fuel. A spokesperson for Walker did not respond to a request for comment.

Schooff responded to Walker’s letter with a letter of his own, saying, “obviously, you have not had the opportunity to be briefed on these items.”

Engineer, Procure, Construct (EPC) Contractor Services for Charter Street Heating Plant Rebuild, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dane County

“The Charter Street Plant, on which work has begun, has natural gas capabilities along with the biomass fuel purchased from Wisconsin farmers and foresters,” Schooff added.

Messages left at the Department of Administration were not immediately returned Thursday.

Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, is a member of the state Building Commission, which approved the Charter plant project. Hintz said it wasn’t clear to him what Walker was asking for.

“I don’t know if it would require a substantive change to the project,” Hintz said. “The whole thing wasn’t going to run on biomass.”




  1. This is hilarious, yet another example of how ignorant our governor elect is. Batten down the hatches people and prepare for the halt of all positive progress in the state!

  2. Depending upon what Secretary Schoof means by Bio-Mass Fuel Gov. Elect Walker is right to stop this conversion project now. If by bio-mass they mean ethanol products this would be a disaster for the taxpayers and consumers.

    Ethanol has been a boondoggle from the beginning. It lowers fuel mileage in cars by up to a third, requires huge subsidies to compete with other fuels and has driven food costs up dramatically.

    If Secretary Schoof’s definition of bio-mass is waste products, then, depending upon costs, this may be a worthwhile conversion. It is a shame that his response to Mr. Walker was so terse and uninformative. Given this response I can only assume that the taxpayers and consumers will be the ones getting stuck with the higher costs of bio-mass fuels.

  3. I would rather have a governor that asks alot of questions, and questions every action of the Doyle administration, as our current governor will leave us in a huge negative $2.5 billion hole.

  4. While not terse, Michael’s comment is yet still uninformed. Do a little research on the fuel sources proposed for the bio-mass conversion. Also note that the Charter St. plant is being designed to use both natural gas AND bio-mass depending on future bulk resource availability. By the way, contracts are signed and Boldt has already begun work on the plant. If it costs $100m to shut down the high-speed rail project which is no where near design stage, I can’t imaging how much money will be required to stop a project after the proverbial shovels are in the ground. THAT sounds like fantastic long-range fiscal responsibility.

  5. Biomass pollution can be equal or greater than that of coal. The number of trains needed to run this plant per day is staggering. The 250 million dollar price tag for this project vs. around 30 million for converting to just gas makes me wonder WTF was going on in Doyle head.

  6. According to Research: Coal power plants account for ~50% of generation in the U.S. and produce ~90% of CO2 emissions from electric utilities.
    I’m guessing that biomass would be… less than 90%?

    But hey, I’m a bit old school. I say we return to the days of Charles Dickens. Coal soot raining down on us, automobile exhaust choking the air as we run the idea of sustainable mass transit and sustainable energy alternatives out of town. You naysayers reflect the new American Spirit: Why Move Forward when we can Remain in the Past!

    And we can Follow Scott Walker and leap like happy lemmings off the cliff into the abyss.

  7. It seems to me that Mr Walker just wants a chance to review some of the big ticket items that the previous administration put into motion to see if they fit within the limited amount of money that the government has. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Anyone that takes over a financially strapped institution, with hopes of righting the ship, would do the same.

  8. So Walker is going to stop all construction now? That’s fantastic news for us in the industry! I was getting tired of owning a business and I’m sure my employees are sick of working.

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