Joppa's EEI Power Plant To Close Next Year
By West Kentucky Star Staff
JOPPA - An Illinois electric utility announced Wednesday plans to shutter its coal power plant in Joppa by September 1 of next year.

The closing affects 115 employees who were told last year that the plant would keep operating until 2025.

The Joppa Power Plant opened in 1953. It currently operates six coal units with a combined capacity of 1,002 MW and five natural gas units with a combined capacity of 239 MW.

Vistra, who owns Electric Energy Incorporated, said in a press release that it has reached a settlement, after the Sierra Club brought a complaint in 2018 before the Illinois Pollution Control Board concerning allegations of environmental exceedances occurring prior to Vistra's ownership.

The company says it is renewing its call for passage of the Illinois Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act to facilitate Vistra's $550-million repurposing of coal plant sites across central and southern Illinois.

If the act passes, Vistra says it intends to build a stand-alone 45-MW battery energy storage facility at the Joppa plant, which does not have the site characteristics to support utility-scale solar. The new battery system would store enough electricity to power about 22,500 homes.

Illinois State Representative Patrick Windhorst (R - Metropolis) released a statement on the closure:

“My heart breaks for the employees of the Joppa coal fired power plant, as news was released this morning that the plant will close three years earlier than first announced. Vistra, the parent company that manages the site, has announced that it has reached an agreement with the Sierra Club, a radical environmental group that sued Vistra for violations it didn’t even make. To see the rug pulled out from under employees that had been told they would have a job for three more years than they will actually get is appalling. It is further disappointing to see another company bullied out of business by the radical Sierra Club, an environmentalist group whose goal is to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels.

“The Sierra Club and Democratic politicians throughout the country are enacting policies and filing lawsuits that are destroying the coal-fired power plants and coal mines that have provided good-paying union labor jobs and affordable home energy prices for decades in Southern Illinois. It is my hope that the people of Illinois, and the people of the United States will wake up to the agenda being pushed by the Sierra Club and Democratic politicians and realize these policies destroy jobs and wreck economies.

“Southern Illinois is blessed with abundant reserves of coal - a naturally occurring element that is used by major economies throughout the world as an affordable, reliable way to provide energy to massive numbers of people. Vistra says it supports turning the real estate at several of its properties into solar farms. Solar farms should be a part of an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy portfolio that includes the use of coal fired power plants, natural gas, and other renewable energy sources.”

 According to Dr. David Loomis of Strategic Economic Research, during the implementation of the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act, the state and local communities will benefit from a significant boost to economic activity. His analysis projects that, from 2022 to 2025, the initiative will:

-support 2,957 full-time jobs across the state

-create $461 million in statewide earnings for workers

-generate $1.7 billion in total economic output in the state

The economic impact study projected that constructing the battery energy storage facility at Joppa would support more than 100 local jobs and spur more than $10 million in economic output in Massac County.

Published 12:37 PM, Wednesday Apr. 07, 2021
Updated 09:07 PM, Wednesday Apr. 07, 2021



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