Texas' Largest Power Company Plans to Close Four Coal-fired Plants in Illinois

Irving-based Vistra Energy will close four coal-fired electric power plants in Illinois to comply with tighter air-emissions requirements.The closings, announced Wednesday, will result in 300 job cuts in the towns of Coffeen, Canton, Havana and Hennepin in the state's central and southern regions.The closures require approval from regional grid operators, which can order plants be kept open if they're needed for reliability. If that doesn't happen, Vistra plans to close them by the end of the year."Even though today's retirement announcements were inevitable due to the changing regulatory environment and unfavorable economic conditions in the [mid-continent] market, they are nonetheless difficult to make," Vistra CEO Curt Morgan said in a statement. "By far, the hardest decisions we make in our business are those that significantly impact our people. ... We appreciate their decades of service providing reliable and affordable power to Illinois, particularly in years like this one with periods of extreme cold and heat."Vistra's action grows out of a deal struck in June between the company and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration, according to the Chicago Tribune. It agreed to shutter 40% of its fleet of coal-fired plants in Illinois.The company, the largest power producer in Texas, became Illinois' biggest producer of coal-fired electricity last year when it acquired eight power plants in a merger with Houston-based Dynegy.In recent years, the U.S. has been moving away from coal-fired plants to generate electricity to more plentiful and cheap natural gas. Coal provided more than half of the nation's energy as recently as a decade ago.In 2017, Vistra's power generation subsidiary, Luminant, closed three coal-fired plants and a mine in East Texas and Central Texas. It cited competition from natural gas, low wholesale power prices and an increase in renewable generation as reasons for the closures.  Continue reading...

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