A WE Energies proposal to build a wind barrier around a coal pile in Oak Creek was approved by the city's planning commission Tuesday night.
The city, residents and the utility hope the fence will be a solution to the problem of blowing coal.
Last spring residents complained of coal dust on their homes and vehicles near the plant. WE Energies tested the dust and confirmed it was indeed from the piles. Since then, berms have been built around the coal and trees have been planted to contain the dust.
Tuesday night the utility proposed a plan for a $10 million wind barrier that would block as much as 95 percent of the wind.
"The winds hits it, it's somewhat of a pourous material. Some flows through, most of it rolls over the top of the fence and forms a dome over the top and it rolls over the coal pile," said Project Manager Paul Haubert.
Residents like Greg Mallard are skeptical of the barrier's ability to block the wind, and therefore the dust from blowing.
"We need more help from Oak Creek to figure out what's going on," said Mallard.
Mayor Dan Bukiewicz expects the solution to work. He said Tuesday, "I really really hope the engineers are right on this one. We can get relief for the neighbors because they've experienced a lot."
WE Energies is hosting a community meeting on the subject Wednesday, Feb. 27th from 3-7 p.m. at the Oak Creek Community Center.