Neighbors living around the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant want to look at starting a petition to have the plant converted to use natural gas.

The public utility completed the conversion of the Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee from coal to natural gas this year and so have a number of other power plants across the country.

“When they did that they were able to reduce emissions… but it was also cheaper and cleaner,” said Bill Pringle, the spokesman for a neighborhood group .Pringle no longer lives in Caledonia, but he is spearheading the effort to help his former neighbors, he said.

We Energies spokesperson Brian Manthey said a possible conversion isn’t in the plans.

“The Oak Creek Power Plant is one of the cleanest and most efficient plants in the country,” Manthey said. “It operates in compliance with all environmental regulations and it continues to be a valuable part of our customer’s energy mix.”

Pringle said the group plans to meet in the next few weeks to talk about moving forward with a petition to call for We Energies to convert the power plant over from coal to natural gas.

“Hopefully we’ll also have new people show up. We want to bring them up to speed quickly,” Pringle said.

Neighbors living near the plant have complained to We Energies claiming they are getting sick from living near the plant. The utility is investigating their claims through third-party testing and 10 homes have already been tested for the presence of coal dust and fly ash.

The results of those tests is expected to be released sometime in the next few weeks.Neighbors have already started a petition to have air monitoring stations installed near the plant that measure particulate matter.

“If we can’t get the plant switched to gas, at the very least we want a monitoring station to get data about the air we breathe,” Pringle said.

The group plans to meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Roundabout Bar & Grill, 5844 Douglas Ave.

 

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.