The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Get A Close Look At Chicago's Eye-Poppingly Giant Energy Infrastructure

By JoshMogerman in News on Jul 7, 2013 9:00PM

A day at the Beach (Stateline Generating Station) [Fotomatic]

It takes a lot of juice to keep the lights on and people moving in this region. Some of the infrastructure at the heart of that system is pretty filthy; some points to a cleaner future—but to power Chicago, it all has to be massive. We hear about the generating stations and refineries, but how many of us have actually visited them? Been to BP? Seen Stateline? While we've offered virtual pollution tours, next week you have the unique opportunity to board a tour bus and get unusually close access to eyeball the real thing.

The Southeast Task Force has been a powerful voice highlighting pollution issues in some of Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s messiest spots—often by dragging elected officials out to confront the industrial landscape in person. Much of their advocacy deals with energy generation, so for their latest public tour, the group has pulled together a look at some of the most infamous and hopeful sites in the region that highlight the mind-blowingly grand scale of Chicago's energy infrastructure with visits to BP’s ever controversial refinery in Whiting, IN; the newly shuttered Stateline coal plant at the edge of Chicago; as well as massive coal and waste piles near the site where a “clean coal” facility had been proposed. But it isn’t all dirty stuff: the tour offers up a very different, but no less epic, view of projects with a much cleaner future like Testa’s uber-green transport facility with its iconic wind turbine and America’s (maybe the world’s) biggest urban solar farm. All that with lunch at Whiting’s Bulldog Brewery included in the ticket price? Eye-opening and...ahem...energizing.

Southeast Task Force’s “Energy Solution Tour” runs July 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with bus service at the Chicago Cultural Center (Randolph and Michigan). Tickets can be purchased at (Full disclosure, the author of this post will be a speaker on the tour.)