We Energies Earns ‘D’ Grade in Climate Report for Fossil Fuel Dependency and Backtracking Oak Creek Power Plant Closure


Megan Wittman, megan.wittman@sierraclub.org

Madison, WI – Today, Sierra Club released its third version of the annual Dirty Truth About Utilities’ Climate Pledges Report. The report analyzes the plans of 77 utilities owned by 50 parent companies and assigns scores and grades to the utilities based on three criteria: plans to retire polluting coal plants, whether they plan to build new gas power plants, and the scale of their investment in clean energy through 2030.

WEC Energy Group, composed of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service, again earned a ‘D’ grade in the report. WEC has reiterated their intention to transition to coal-free electricity generation by 2035 but has made marginal progress towards their goal. Their “clean” energy plan involves major investments in gas, an expensive fossil fuel with significant adverse climate and health impacts.

In 2020, We Energies announced that it would close its Oak Creek Power Plant, replacing burning coal with wind, solar, and natural gas. Last year, We Energies pushed back the plant’s closure until 2025. Since then, We Energies has insinuated that the plant’s closure may be delayed yet again, citing that Microsoft is constructing a data center nearby that would require more energy, despite Microsoft’s strong climate commitments

With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, clean energy is more affordable for utility companies than ever. Transitioning to clean energy would lower ratepayers’ bills. We Energies, however, is looking to increase its rates again this year by 2.5% for electric and 2.9% for gas, after last year's increase of 11.2% for residential electric. A rate hike would bring in an additional $132 million for We Energies, paid for by their customers.

Elizabeth Ward, Chapter Director of Sierra Club - Wisconsin, released the following statement: 

“We Energies and WEC Energy Group talk a big game of a clean energy transition, but once again, have failed to walk the walk. We Energies and WEC are trying to hike rates again, in part to continue operating their expensive coal plants and redoubling on gas. They’ve gone back on their commitment to close the Oak Creek Power Plant and are considering delaying the plant’s closure yet again. Broken promises and increased prices– We Energies proving yet again that the only thing they care about is profit.”


The 77 utility companies most invested in fossil fuels are planning to replace just 30 percent of their existing fossil fuel generation with clean energy by 2030, according to the Sierra Club’s 2023 Dirty Truth Report released today. Utilities scored an overall grade of 'D,' in the report, with 43 percent showing no progress or receiving lower scores compared to the previous year. 

Although clean energy is less expensive than 99 percent of existing coal and new gas generation, only 20 of the 77 utilities have plans to be entirely coal-free by 2030. And combined, these 77 utilities are planning to build 53 gigawatts of new gas plants through 2030, nearly 40 percent more than was planned last year.

In an interactive webpage, users can see their utility’s score and what progress – if any– the utility has made toward transitioning to cleaner, more affordable energy.


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.