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Richard Ryman column: Kewaunee nuclear plant closing subject of two meetings this week

9:14 PM, Mar. 8, 2013  |  Comments
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Two meetings discussing the Kewaunee Power Station closing are scheduled for Wednesday night.

Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp. will hold its annual meeting at the Rendezvous of Luxemburg, E896 County Rd N, and a grassroots group will meet at Fox Hills Resort, 250 Church St., Mishicot.

The groups aren't in competition. The KCEDC annual meeting has been scheduled for some time, and the grassroots group was limited by availability of a meeting place, said organizer Brian Ihlenfeldt.

Owner Dominion Resources will close the town of Carlton nuclear plant in April or May, dealing a significant economic blow to the county and the region. A date has not been announced.

Dominion Resources tried to sell the plant, but a sale didn't happen because its contracts for selling electricity there terminate at the end of this year, and natural gas-generated electricity is, for the moment, cheaper.

Kewaunee Power Station employs about 650 people. The most recent economic impact analysis developed by KCEDC and Steve Deller at the University of Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics determined the closing will cost $85.5 million in direct and indirect income to county residents and $638.9 million in sales, including by the plant. Governments will lose out on $6.1 million in taxes and other revenue.

Ihlenfeldt, whose wife, Laura, is an employee at Kewaunee, would like to see government - and the governor - put more effort into saving Kewaunee, like they did Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac.

"In Iowa, they were able to negotiate a new purchase power agreement," he said. "I'm trying to see if there is anything the governor can do."

Ihlenfeldt started a Facebook page - Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant-Keep KNPP Open for Business - and hopes to get local residents and business owners involved in the effort. He understands time is running out, quickly.

"I'm not trying inject false hope, but I don't want to drive by it every day and say there is one more thing I could have done," he said.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp. will start its annual dinner meeting at 6 p.m. at the Rendezvous, about 3 miles southeast of Luxemburg.

KCEDC Executive Director Jennifer Brown said the focus of the meeting is Dominion's partnership on the county's plant-closing strategy team. She said company representatives will provide a closing update and she'll talk about the new economic impact numbers.

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