Last year, Dynegy tried to push customer-funded coal subsidies into the Future Energy Jobs Act at the last minute, but environmental groups successfully blocked that effort. But since then, Dynegy has been working with state agencies to re-write pollution standards as a way of keeping their struggling Illinois fleet of coal plants open. Proposed amendments to state rules would scrap limits on the rate of pollution from a fleet of eight coal plants in central and southern Illinois now owned by Vistra+Dynegy, after a recent merger of the two Texas giants. The current rules, negotiated over 10 years ago, placed limits on emissions from certain power plants.
If approved, these amendments would allow the Vistra+Dynegy to run its dirtier plants more often – or potentially close down it’s cleanest coal plants. But here’s the problem. While closing cleaner plants that are more expensive to operate would result in greater profits for Dynegy, the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the dirtiest plants in Dynegy’s Illinois fleet cause approximately 9 to 17 times more premature deaths. You can find their analysis in their recent blog post below.
Vistra and Dynegy’s efforts to keep their coal plants open at the same time they attempt to roll back air quality standards is contrary to the clean energy transition underway in Illinois and should be rejected.
– James Gignac, Union of Concerned Scientist
As James Gignac writes, it is probable that Vistra+Dynegy would retire their dirtier and more harmful plants if the amendments are not approved by the State. Less air pollution is a good thing for the health of Illinois residents, and continued progress toward cleaner air was the intent of the initial multi-pollutant standard rule when it was originally adopted.
The Illinois Pollution Control Board held hearings on the proposed rule change this past winter and spring. A decision is expected soon – perhaps as early as Thursday, August 23.