IXONIA — We Energies threw a stiff counter-punch to a Sierra Club petition to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in which the club asked the PSC to reexamine its decision to permit the utility to construct a $185 million liquid natural gas facility in Ixonia.

Legal counsel for the Sierra Club filed a petition Wednesday asking the panel to reopen, rehear and reconsider its permission for the structure to be built.

The Sierra Club also asked the PSC to reconsider its decision to allow a similar LNG facility to be built at Bluff Creek, just east of Whitewater, in Walworth County.

The organization is arguing that public service commissioners made material errors of fact and law in their decision.

In counter filing, attorneys for joint applicants We Energies and Wisconsin Gas LLC, Milwaukee’s Quarles & Brady LLP, are asking the PSC to stick with its decision to allow the LNG facility to be built. They argue, in part, that the Sierra Club did not demonstrate the commission made any errors of fact or law.

“Sierra Club does not demonstrate the commission made any errors of fact or law — much less any material errors that would compel a different decision — so the petition must be denied,” We Energies stated.

“There is no merit to these claims,” We Energies spokesman Brendan Conway said. “This project received approval after a thorough and transparent public process that found these critical facilities will allow us to keep customers warm on the coldest days with a safe, environmentally friendly and local supply of natural gas.”

He added that the record in the case demonstrates that the project also will deliver cost savings to We Energies customers and that infrastructure installation at the site is underway.

“Construction activity on the site started late last week, with crews beginning work on silt fence installation and the site entrance,” Conway said.

No time-frame on when the PSC might make its decision on whether it will reexamine its decision has been available.

The We Energies facility in Ixonia will include a 15-story, 150-foot-diameter tank to store 12 million gallons of liquefied natural gas. The plant also will have equipment to process vaporized natural gas into a liquid and back again, a section of pipeline connecting to a main natural gas pipeline, plus an electric substation.

We Energies said the purpose of the proposed facility is to store natural gas until it is needed, at which time it would be put back into the pipeline.

It is slated to be located northeast of Hill and North roads, and might be operational by late 2023.

“The petition (from the Sierra Club) is legally and factually deficient and should be denied,” We Energies wrote. “Sierra Club opposes the use of natural gas — in any form — and in this case argued that the commission should deny approval of the LNG project. But Sierra Club’s advocacy position has led it to ignore, wholesale, the substantial evidence joint applicants submitted in favor of the LNG project, as well as the commission’s careful analysis of testimony and facts during its deliberation and in its final decision. Indeed, Sierra Club seems not to recognize that the commission and joint applicants have a responsibility to ‘keep the heat on’ during Wisconsin’s coldest days.”

We Energies said the Sierra Club, “ ... may be warmed by its strongly held beliefs, but joint applicants’ customers need a reliable supply of natural gas to stay warm when the temperature dips and the commission correctly concluded the LNG project squarely addresses the need for system reliability, deliver-ability and resilience during the coldest days of Wisconsin winters.”

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