Today, the Illinois Senate voted to force Illinois citizens and businesses to purchase power from a proposed coal plant operated by Tenaska, an out-of-state corporation. The bill, SB 678, has been repeatedly rejected due to concerns about the exorbitant cost of the project, the huge amounts of new pollution it may emit, and the unproven nature of its pollution controls. Today, power politics prevailed over these concerns.
Today Springfield voted to raise our electric rates for 30 years to pay for a risky, expensive coal plant we don’t need. The Illinois Senate has said yes to a ratepayer bailout for a failing project that threatens to pump out over 10 billion pounds of pollution every year.
Illinois consumers would be expected to pay up to seven times today’s market price for electricity to subsidize this out of state company. Even if the plant is built on time and without overruns, this will amount to a $286-million increase in electric rates every year for the next 30 years. This terrible burden on families and on businesses is going to have devastating consequences on our economy and will cost Illinois thousands of jobs, including lost manufacturing jobs across the state.
Coal is a risky investment. Just today an epic case of coal plant buyer’s remorse was announced in North Dakota. The Spiritwood Station coal-burning power plant 85 miles west of Fargo, ND, cost $437 million. Owner Great River Energy and regional mining industry lobbyists insisted that the plant was necessary to provide enough power to the region. Now Great River Energy is shutting down this coal plant, right after it was built. This might be the only new U.S. coal plant built to supply continuous, base-load power that was immediately mothballed. Will Taylorville be next? (For more information on the Spiritwood Station:
In addition to sky high rates, Illinois ratepayers would be locked into massive amounts of dangerous pollution. Illinois EPA recently estimated Tenaska’s potential at over 10 billion pounds per year, including health-threatening lead and mercury. Tenaska itself admits to IEPA that the pollution control plan in SB678 is “not commercially available”.
We understand the need to create jobs in new energy technologies, but the Tenaska project is the wrong way to go. We’ve created over 14,000 jobs in Illinois renewable energy by encouraging competition, protecting ratepayers, and investing in proven technology. That’s the smart way to create clean energy jobs, without jeopardizing our health and Springfield picking the winners that the rest of us are forced to subsidize.
We call on the Illinois House to reject Tenaska’s bailout request, and stand up for ratepayers and the air we breathe.
You can see how your State Senator voted here.