Rochelle leaders want lower state power plant to stay open

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ROCHELLE – The leaders of La Rochelle said on Monday that they wanted the plant where they buy electricity to remain open.

The Prairie Power Plant in Marissa, Illinois, is marked for closure in 2035 as part of the Illinois omnibus clean energy bill.

While shutting down the coal-fired power plant within 14 years would help the state focus on renewables, Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows believes it could also leave the city of Rochelle without a long-term energy alternative. .

Related: Northern lawmakers, unions and nonprofit utilities wary of ‘zero carbon future’ legislation“My concern is sustainable energy,” he said. “We need to have a reliable base load (power plant),” Bearrows said. “Without it, we’ll be as bad as California. We will have gradual brownouts. We will have power shortages.”

City manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said it could be worse than that. There could also be rate increases of up to 20% to cover the cost of shutting down the facility.

“(There is) this idea that we can just go out into the open market and find replaceable energy that is the same or at a lower cost,” Fiegenschuh said. “Prove it to me. Show me where we’re going to be able to buy electricity in 2035 and pay less than what we’re paying now. It’s an easy topic of discussion, but there’s no proof.”

Rochelle currently pays Prairie State 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity.

According to Governor JB Pritzker’s proposal, coal-fired power plants would be phased out by 2035 and natural gas power plants by 2045.

Bearrows said Rochelle’s portfolio already includes solar power and the city will consider more renewable options over the next five years. He wants those options to include electricity produced by Prairie State.

“There is no reason that Prairie State cannot be cut out and remain in effect as a reliable and lasting baseload for all of our state,” the mayor said.

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But Pritzker is not ready to exempt the coal plant.

“Illinois can and should be at the forefront of clean energy, and it must lead in the light of day – ethically, honestly, and towards the collective goal of empowering Illinois to lead the United States. in the transition to a clean energy economy, “Pritzker said in June. 10 memo to the Energy Legislative Working Group.

The General Assembly adjourned last week without voting on the clean energy bill. The proposal also includes grants to Exelon to keep nuclear power plants open in Byron and Dresden.

Jim Hagerty is an independent correspondent.



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