town of BELOIT

The new power plant under construction in the town of Beloit is 96% complete and expected to finish in May under budget, Alliant Energy officials said.

The West Riverside Energy Center, a natural gas-fired power plant being built at 4201 S. Walters Road, is expected to be the most environmentally friendly facility in the region and perhaps the entire country, Alliant Energy spokesman Scott Reigstad said.

“We’re really excited about the fact that it’s nearing completion,” Reigstad said.

The plant will produce 730 megawatts of electricity, powering roughly 550,000 homes in the area, Reigstad said.

The project has a budget of $700 million, and Reigstad said $30 million is expected to be left after completion. Reigstad said hundreds of workers have poured millions of working hours into the facility.

The plant will have two natural gas-fired units. Reigstad said natural gas facilities create 50% fewer emissions than coal-fired plants.

One of the two natural gas units was test-fired earlier this month, Reigstad said. The second unit will be tested within about two weeks.

Gene Wright, town of Beloit fire chief and town administrator, said older coal-fired and tire-burning plants presented more fire hazards than more modern designs. He said the natural gas-fired plant will be safer.

“It’s a little more efficient and encapsulated. They’ve been a good neighbor so far,” Wright said.

Wright said Alliant Energy has invited local firefighters to conduct training and inspections at the new plant, and the facility has had no major issues.

Alliant also has drafted plans to build solar panels adjacent to the main facility to generate an additional four megawatts. Construction on the solar project is scheduled to begin in April and finish by September, Reigstad said.

Before the facility becomes active in early 2020, Alliant Energy is seeking national certification that the West Riverside Energy Center is environmentally friendly, Reigstad said.

“It’s really important for us with the water. We’ve done a lot with the water in the area to make sure it’s environmentally friendly,” Reigstad said.

Local officials have been supportive of the project, Reigstad said, and Alliant has invited residents who live within one mile of the facility to attend question and answer sessions every six months since construction began. In March or April, Reigstad said, Alliant plans to invite residents back for another discussion.