Illinois lawmakers are on the verge of passing legislation that could raise electric rates and turn Illinois into an exporter of jobs and an importer of energy from neighboring states. The proposal would effectively force the premature closure of the Prairie State Energy Campus, a highly efficient, state-of-the-art power plant in Illinois and open the door to energy produced in other states that are far behind Illinois on meeting carbon reduction goals. It would also jeopardize grid reliability.
Prairie State, which is owned by not-for-profit utilities that serve families across eight states, is an economic engine for southern Illinois, employing more than 650 full-time workers and another 1,000 union contractors. Its annual economic impact on the region is greater than $785 million per year. Moreover, this reliable baseload generator is integral to the efforts of its Illinois electric cooperative and municipal owners to keep energy affordable and reliable, even as they invest in a cleaner energy future.
In fact, Prairie State is a viable part of that transition to Illinois’ energy future. Coming online in 2012 during the Obama-Biden Administration and purpose-built with $1 billion of emissions controls, Prairie State stands apart from older, traditional coal plants. Even so, Prairie State is now partnering with state and federal officials to study ways to cut emissions even further.
The proposed legislation that would close Prairie State is an unfortunate case of policy getting ahead of technology. The current state of renewable solar and wind generation with its intermittent output cannot reliably or cost-effectively replace the steady baseload generation Prairie State provides.
Should Prairie State close prematurely, we will sacrifice affordability, reliability and jobs in Illinois. While Illinois is already outperforming U.S. Climate Alliance goals, we will end up importing power from neighboring states who are far behind on those goals, hoping they can keep our lights on.
We support a common-sense energy transition in which Prairie State can serve as the bridge to Illinois’ energy future. Tell Illinois policymakers to keep energy affordable, reliable and made in Illinois.
Call the Governor’s office and your local legislators to oppose this legislation. Visit voicesforcooperativepower.com/illinois to send a letter of opposition.