2010 Feb. 19: WI Rothschild: Residents voice concerns about proposed biomass plant
By Amy Ryan • Everest Herald • February 19, 2010
WE Energies, a Milwaukee-based power company, proposed construction of a biomass energy plant near the Domtar paper mill in Rothschild in September. The facility would burn mill residue and trucked-in waste wood to produce power. Since then, company representatives have been going door-to-door, meeting with residents and government officials to address concerns.
Todd Babl, 36, of Rothschild was one of the residents visited by WE Energies. He lives in the neighborhood directly south of Domtar on the west side of Business Highway 51. He said he found a "piece of paper with some contact information" on his porch. He called the number and talked to a company representative.
"That’s the first we heard about (the plant)," Babl said.
Babl said he has a lot of concerns about the mill adding noise and pollution to his neighborhood.
"We’ve got a nice little community. The houses now are being bought by younger families. There’s a lot of children in this neighborhood," he said. "We’re worried about noise and pollution, dust, smells. When they get all those trucks coming in, that’s part of the pollution."
Babl hopes he and his neighbors can stop WE Energies from building the plant.
"We don’t want to harm the business, but we don’t think it belongs in our neighborhood," he said.
He is also concerned about the effect the plant may have on Rothschild Elementary School, across the street from Domtar, where his daughter attends.
"If they’re emitting some kind of particulate matter, that would come out of the burning process, that could go right to the playground," Babl said.
Rothschild Elementary School principal Ron Foreman said no one has contacted him yet with concerns.
Plans for the plant are very preliminary at this point, and anything can happen, said Rothschild Village President Neal Torney.
"It’s very early in the process," he said. "WE Energies hasn’t even applied for their permit from the Public Service Commission. We haven’t seen site plans."
Torney said he has his own list of concerns for WE Energies.
"I have a seven-page list of comments and concerns that we’ve posed to WE Energies that we need to work through before the village comes out in favor of this plant," he said.
The land where WE Energies is proposing to build the plant is zoned industrial, so a power plant is appropriate use of the land and no re-zoning would be required, Torney said.
"But we have a lot of other areas to look at to make sure it will be compatible with the neighborhood," Torney said.