- Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013 04:20 PM
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar joined other state lawmakers, local officials and labor representatives in providing testimony and support to the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) on behalf of the Coffeen Energy Center. The coal facility is in danger of closure if the IPCB does not grant a continued delayed installation of pollution-control equipment.
“We’re just asking for more time in order for these environmental regulations to happen in order to keep these plants open and to keep these people employed,” said Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “If the plant closes down, it’s hard on the community.”
Ameren, which currently owns Coffeen and four other Illinois coal plants in Southern Illinois, has reached an agreement to sell the power stations to Dynegy, based in Houston. The Pollution Control Board granted a variance to Ameren to delay tougher emissions standards from 2015 to 2020 after the company said it could not afford to upgrade the equipment right now.
However, Ameren now wants to transfer the plants to Dynegy. A newly formed subsidiary called Illinois Power Holdings would run the plants, and Dynegy has said it wants the variance to remain in effect as a condition of the deal. If the deal falls through, Ameren has said it could shut down the plants.
The PCB ruled in June that the waiver could not be transferred to Dynegy as part of the transaction. Board members did advise the companies that the waiver request could be resubmitted, so it was.
While testifying to the pollution control board, Manar stressed the importance of granting the variance request made by Dynegy to avoid dire economic consequences.
“The Coffeen Energy Center, an Ameren Energy Resources (AER) facility located in Montgomery County, provides an immense level of security to the individuals, families and communities situated within my district,” Manar said. “A shutdown of these plants would stifle economic growth and development in Central and Southern Illinois, and would be devastating to these communities.” About 700 people work at the power plants, including 140 at Coffeen.
Carrigan said the plants support nearly 6,300 jobs and are responsible for $1.4 billion of economic impact in the state. They also generate $13.3 million of local property taxes.