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We Energies announces plans for wood-burning power plant

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Wisconsin's largest electric utility announced plans Tuesday to build a new wood-burning power plant at the Domtar paper mill in Rothschild, just south of Wausau.

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We Energies said it would help meet the state's mandate to produce renewable energy and it would generate steam to help the paper mill reduce its natural gas costs.

The utility said it would ask the state early next year for permission to build the plant.

If approved, it would go online by 2013.

The 50-megawatt power plant would cost $0.25 billion, and would provide enough power for 40,000 homes.

It's the third bio-mass project announced in the state over the last year.

Other utilities plan similar units in Madison and Ashland.

The Domtar paper company is based in Montreal, and its CEO says the new power plant would help make the firm more competitive.

It also helps We Energies settle a previous lawsuit involving its new coal-fired power plant near Milwaukee in which the company agreed to a host of environmental measures including the new bio-mass facility.

Gov. Jim Doyle hailed the new project as another step for Wisconsin to produce its own energy.

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