South Oak Creek Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

South Oak Creek Plant is a 1,240.0-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by Wisconsin Energy near Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

In November 2020, Wisconsin Energy said the coal plant will be retired by 2023-2024, and replaced by a combination of solar, wind, batteries, and gas power. The company said closing the aging South Oak Creek coal plant could save $50 million a year in operational and maintenance costs.[1]


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Wisconsin Electric Power Company
  • Parent Company: Wisconsin Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,240.0 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 5: 299.2 MW (1959), Unit 6: 299.2 MW (1961), Unit 7: 317.6 MW (1965), Unit 8: 324.0 MW (1967)
  • Location: 4801 East Elm Rd., Oak Creek, WI 53154
  • GPS Coordinates: 42.843982, -87.828124
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Sub-bituminous / Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Black Thunder Mine (Arch Coal), Antelope Coal Mine (Navajo Nation), North Antelope Rochelle Mine (Peabody Coal)[2]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: The plant's four units are planned for retirement in 2023-2024.[1][3]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 6,505,811 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 13,594 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 4,631 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 351 lb.


The South Oak Creek coal plant is the single largest source of toxic metals dumped into Lake Michigan, according to a September 2020 Chicago Tribune analysis of federal data.[4]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from South Oak Creek Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[5] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[6]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the South Oak Creek Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 44 $320,000,000
Heart attacks 70 $7,600,000
Asthma attacks 730 $38,000
Hospital admissions 33 $750,000
Chronic bronchitis 27 $1,200,000
Asthma ER visits 45 $16,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hubbuch, Chris (2020-11-06). "We Energies to retire 1.8 gigawatts of fossil fuel; utility adding solar, wind, battery storage". Kenosha News. Retrieved 2020-11-06.
  2. "EIA 923 July 2020" EIA 923 July 2020.
  3. "We Energies will retire the oldest of its Oak Creek power plants by 2024," Biz Journal, November 4, 2020
  4. Hawthorne, Michael (2020-09-09). "Trump EPA guts tough standards for toxic metals dumped into US waterways by coal-fired power plants, including biggest polluter on Lake Michigan". Retrieved 2020-11-06.
  5. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  6. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

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