From an article by Kathleen Foody in the Wausau Daily Herald:
ROTHSCHILD — The mood at the open house hosted by We Energies on Thursday about a proposed biomass plant in Rothschild was calm, though discussion about the project has become heated.
About 110 residents attended the sessions, one each in the afternoon and evening, at the Holiday Inn in Rothschild. Staff from We Energies and Domtar stood near displays and video monitors, explaining the plant plan and its effects on the community.
The proposal to burn woody biomass as fuel to create electricity for sale by the Milwaukee energy company and steam to power the Domtar paper mill is pending before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. Since the plant was proposed in September 2009, We Energies has tried to get ahead of critics with direct mailings, community meetings and door-to-door consultations.
Many residents who attended the Thursday meetings said they were undecided or in favor of the $250 million project and felt satisfied with answers to their questions about air quality, jobs and traffic around the plant.
“I want to make sure it’s safe. My grandkids attend (Rothschild Elementary School) across the street (from the mill),” Andy Champine of Weston said. “I walked in neutral to get the facts.”
Barry McNulty, a spokesman for We Energies at the event, said the company was pleased with turnout and the questions posed.
“No one particular issue stood out,” he said. “Residents asked very similar questions (as at the February open house), and we tried to give them a better understanding of what we do and how we do it.”
Rob Hughes, a member of Save Our Air Resources, a citizen group that has opposed the plant, said he applauded the open house events. But he’s not satisfied with We Energies’ responses to his requests for specific information on air quality if the plant is constructed.