EAST ALTON — As planned, the Dynegy Inc. 465-megawatt coal-fired power plant along the Berm Highway officially closed its doors June 1.
According to East Alton Treasurer Randy Nelson, the closure will result in a loss of nearly $1.5 million in tax revenue and approximately 100 jobs.
Dynegy announced in January the cleanup cost following the closure will be approximately $18 million.
“We look to Dynegy to live up to their promises to offer workers a soft place to land within the company as well as promises to clean up the coal ash on site,” said Laura Asher, volunteer chair of the Piasa Palisades Group of the Sierra Club. “The Sierra Club stands ready to work with the mayors of the Riverbend and interested parties to form an inclusive transition task force that would help move our community forward by identifying opportunities for new development and cleanup of the site.”
When Dynegy announced plans to close the plant in November 2015, local leaders scrambled for a resolution to save the facility.
A reliability study in March indicated there were issues that needed to be addressed by 2020. Ameren has proposed a number of transmission upgrades to address the need for long-term solutions. The reliability study was the last hurdle to be crossed to determine the plant’s future.
Located along Illinois 143, Dynegy has employed more than 100 local residents and provided tax revenue of $1,485,667 to local governments.
In January, the Sierra Club’s Piasa Palisades group, local mayors and the RiverBend Growth Association hosted a town hall meeting at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton to discuss the plant’s future, the impact of the closure and a course of action for cleaning up coal ash.
Dynegy President and CEO Bob Flexon estimated the cleanup cost at approximately $18 million.
“Between geologists, environmental experts and tests conducted, we are using the figure of $18 million to start with,” Flexon said during the town hall meeting. “If it costs more to clean it up, we’ll pay more. If it costs less, we’ll pay less. We are going to take care of this region and leave it in the best condition possible.”
Dynegy announced plans in May to close two more coal-fired power plants in the region. Units one and three at the Baldwin Power Station in Baldwin, and unit two at the Newton Power Station in Newton, are expected to shut down operations over the next year. The decision to shut down operations was made after they once again failed to recover their basic operating costs in the most recent Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc. capacity auction.
At the January meeting, Flexon said the capacity auction's market design is flawed because it allows regulated utilities from surrounding states to bid their capacity into the auction at little or no cost. Regulated utilities receive higher guaranteed compensation from their respective state-regulated markets. Central and Southern Illinois market participants operate in a deregulated state and must rely on the MISO capacity auction for fair compensation.
With the closing, tax revenue could be affected in totals of more than $340,000 for East Alton and the East Alton Library, $130,000 for Wood River and Wood River Township, nearly $13,000 for St. Louis Regional Airport, more than $100,000 for Lewis and Clark Community College, more than $40,000 for Madison County, and more than $750,000 for Alton School District, for a total potential tax revenue impact loss of $1,485,667.