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Analyst says it's 50/50 on Cassville power plant approval

A Milwaukee utility analyst says a new coal-fired power plant in Cassville probably has a 50-50 chance of being approved on Tuesday.

The state Public Service Commission is scheduled to act on the $1.3 billion project by Alliant Energy of Madison. David Parker of Robert W. Baird and Co., says the new plant makes sense because building costs may go down as the economy keeps slipping.

But Parker also says President-elect Barack Obama is bound and determined to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

And that could mean added costs for Cassville or any coal-fired plant over the long run.

Alliant says the plant is needed to provide an ever-increasing demand for electricity in Wisconsin.

And the support and opposition has not always fallen along the normal lines. Some business interests oppose the new plant, saying it's too expensive.

Some environmentalists, meanwhile, say they like the Alliant project because it would also burn wood waste, switchgrass and corn stalks.

Also, Alliant says a reduction of utility operations in eastern Wisconsin would negate the state's overall pollution effect from the Cassville project.