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Local News


Coffeen One of Four Power Plants to be Closed

Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:10:20 CDT

Texas-based energy company Vistra Energy announced on Wednesday that the Coffeen Power Plant is one of its four Illinois plants that will be retired.

The Montgomery County Board released a statement in response to the decision.

"We at the Montgomery County Board are in constant contact with the Vistra representatives in light of (Wednesday) morning's announcement of the Coffeen Power Plant closing. There are many questions that we hope to have answered. We are studying the financial aspect and mapping the anticipated impact on all taxing bodies to create a plan that will ease the financial burden this closure will create. We are working with local officials from the state and from the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to ensure a response and transition plan is in place to support the families in Montgomery County."

Megan Beeler serves as both the Vice Chair of the county board and the Chair of the board's Finance Committee. She says the impact on the county will be significant.

"Vistra is the largest property taxpayer in Montgomery County," she said. "In addition to the property tax, we will see a large impact to our sales tax collection. (Coffeen Power Plant's) sales tax accounts for roughly $900,000 annually. We are anticipating a loss of $675,000 in revenue for next year, and that's 11 percent of our projected revenue."

Beeler said other taxing districts that will be affected include the Hillsboro Ambulance District, Montgomery County Extension Service, Health Department, Veterans Affairs Commission, 708 Board, Lincoln Land Community College, East Fork Road District and East Fork Township. The district most affected, however, will be the Hillsboro School District.

"The power plant provided $2.8 million in revenue to Hillsboro Community Unit School District 3 in Fiscal Year 19 and $2 million in revenue this year," said Hillsboro School Superintendent David Powell. "The closure of the plant will be a significant blow to the district. Over time, the revenue we receive from the State will increase as aresult of this significant decrease in our tax base."

Powell said he will be working with the financial staff at the Illinois State Board of Education "to make sure we understand the timing and scale of that increase." He added that he is "confident our community can come together and work through this in such a way as to meet student needs while not overly burdening the remaining taxpayers in the district."

State officials also weighed in on Wednesday's announcement. Representative Avery Bourne called the decision “disappointing.”

"The closure of Coffeen's coal plant is devastating to our local economy,” she said. "The closure of all four plants will mean downstate Illinois loses production of affordable and reliable energy.”

Senator Andy Manar called the plant in Coffeen the "cleanest coal-fired power plant in the world," and said closing it down "makes zero sense.”

"Today, Vistra, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Pollution Control Board together failed the environment,” he said. "Shame on the Pollution Control Board for not doing its homework and allowing this to happen."

Other plants facing shutdown are Havana, Hennepin and the Deer Creek Power Plant in Canton. According to a report from Yahoo Finance, approximately 300 jobs will be eliminated across the four plants.


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