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SPRINGFIELD – To call for increased assistance from Vistra Energy for communities affected by recent power plant closures, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) attended a Clean Energy Summit with fellow Senate lawmakers and stakeholders in Canton, Illinois today. Attending the summit from Montgomery County were Montgomery County Treasurer Nikki Lohman, Hillsboro Community School District Superintendent Dave Powell and Montgomery County Supervisor of Assessments Ray Durston.

When the Coffeen Power Station closed its doors nearly one year ago, Manar began collaborating with colleagues in Springfield to evaluate the best path forward to help families and local governments affected by several closures statewide.

“We know from firsthand experience that the coal industry has been a key cog in the downstate economy for decades.  But, we also know that we have to be realistic when it comes to the industry’s current condition,” Manar said. “Welcoming solar energy infrastructure would create jobs and undo some of the damage done to the local economies in Coffeen and Canton, but that’s not an immediate solution to the problems these people have right now.”

Though the legislative session was delayed by COVID-19, one proposal Manar is co-sponsoring would require property tax assessments on coal, gas, and nuclear plants to be frozen at pre-closure rates for five years, ensuring local governments and school districts with a consistent source of revenue in the short term.  Additionally, it provides an extra week of unemployment insurance benefits for those who are laid off from their job at a plant or mine.

“The task of providing relief to communities that have been directly harmed by the decision to shut down power plants has fallen to the legislature,” Manar said. “As we move forward to confront this challenge, our goals must include providing middle class families, local governments and school districts with as much leeway as possible to ease their revenue losses and tax burdens.” 

This legislation will likely be a piece of a larger package of energy legislation that could be taken up as early as the fall veto session.

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