By - Jim Vess

Vistra to close four Illinois coal-fired power plants to meet Illinois pollution standards

Energize Weekly, August 28, 2019

Vistra Energy said it will close four Illinois coal-fired plants, with 2,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity and 300 employees, by the end of the year to meet new state pollution rules.

The Illinois Multi-Pollutant Standard (MPS) sets caps on emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and required the shutdown of 2,000 MW by Vistra Energy. That target was a revision to the original rule.

“Without this rule change, the company’s entire downstate fleet was at risk of imminent retirement,” Irving, Texas-based Vistra said. The company has about 7,000 MW of capacity in Illinois.

The plants to be closed are the 915-MW Coffeen Power Plant in Montgomery County, the 425-MW Duck Creek Power Plant in Canton, the 435-MW Havana Power Plant in Mason County and the 294-MW Hennepin Power Plant in Putnam County.

The plants range in age from 41 years to 66 years. The Coffeen plant has the most employees, 95, followed by the Havana plant with 75 workers.

The four plants were selected after a plant-by-plant analysis that included ensuring compliance with the new emissions caps set forth in the revised MPS rule, plant economics, federal energy regulations and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market rules.

Vistra Energy is filing notices with MISO and PJM Interconnect, the two wholesale markets and regional grids in which it participates, as well as with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). An evaluation has to be made if the closure would affect grid reliability.

“Even though today’s retirement announcements were inevitable due to the changing regulatory environment and unfavorable economic conditions in the MISO market, they are nonetheless difficult to make,” Curt Morgan, Vistra’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “By far, the hardest decisions we make in our business are those that significantly impact our people.”

Vistra said it is providing outplacement services and working with state workforce agencies to assist the employees impacted by the closures.

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