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Midwest Generation May Shut Down All Its Illinois Plants

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 2, 2012 10:40PM

West Wing Blowing (Fisk Coal Plant) [swanksalot]

Now that Midwest Generation—owner of the Fisk and Crawford coal-powered electric generation plants—agreed to shut down the two plants in 2012 and 2014, respectively, under a deal brokered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, there's a possibility the company may abandon Illinois altogether.

Crain's Chicago Business reports Midwest Generation's parent company, Edison International, could shut down its other coal-fired plants in suburban Waukegan, Romeoville, Joliet and in Pekin because wholesale energy prices have bottomed out to the point where the company can't turn a profit.

The tradeoff for cleaner air is this: it's speculated Midwest Generation may close the Waukegan plant in 2014, which would put 160 people out of work in addition to the 165 combined jobs that will be lost when the Fisk and Crawford plants close. If the Joliet, Pekin and Romeoville plants follow suit, the total number of jobs lost would be 1,050—700 of them union jobs.

Abandoning Illinois could also lead to a possible increase in electric bills: Midwest Generation is the state's second leading power generator. But the company posted a $270 million loss last year. The three plant not on target for closing require $628 million in upgrades to comply with EPA emissions standards. Edison International Chairman Theodore Craver told investors in a Wednesday conference call if energy prices continue their slide, the company will consider divesting its assets.

Midwest Generation entered the Illinois market by paying $4.6 billion to ComEd in 1999 for the six plants.