We Energies Plans $1.2 Billion Investment to Transition to Natural Gas at Oak Creek Plant

We Energies plans to spend $1.2 billion dollars at its Oak Creek Power Plant to convert the facility from a coal-fired power plant to a natural gas plant.

The utility also plans to spend roughly $200 million to build a liquefied natural gas storage facility in Oak Creek, and $211 million to install gas-fired reciprocating internal combustion engines near the Paris Generating Station in Kenosha County.

We Energies anticipates bringing the natural gas operations at Oak Creek online by June 2028, and hopes to have the gas units at the Paris site online by summer 2026, according to a document the utility filed with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

The document estimates the Oak Creek natural gas operations will be able to generate between 1,100 and 1,200 megawatts of power, while the Paris gas units will generate 130 megawatts.

Dan Krueger, executive vice president of We Energies’ parent company, WEC Energy Group, said the natural gas units will primarily serve as backup power sources for times when the utility can’t count on renewable energy resources.

Krueger also said the planned investment is in response to new capacity requirements from the Midwest grid operator, a projected increase in electricity demand in southeast Wisconsin and proposed federal regulations on coal plants.

He said Microsoft’s proposed investment in data centers in Mount Pleasant and other industrial developments in that part of the state are driving a projected increase in demand for power. Meanwhile, he says the proposed federal clean air rules require coal plants either retire, be converted to gas or have “expensive equipment” placed on them for alternative generation.

“For our ratepayers in Wisconsin, we looked at all those economics, and by far the best approach for the most part is to repower the (coal) plants to gas,” Krueger said. “This is driven by the pending or proposed clean air rules which would go into effect in 2030.”