Coal, Emissions, Material Handling

Vistra Energy shutting down four coal-fired plants to meet Illinois pollution rules

Hennepin coal-fired power plant.

Competitive market power generator Vistra Energy will close four coal-fired power plants in Illinois to meet state mandates on pollution standards.

The company will shutter the Coffeen, Duck Creek, Havana and Hennepin power plants. Together they generate more than 2,000 MW in capacity and support hundreds of jobs.

Texas-based Vistra says the reasons behind the closures include revisions in the state multi-pollutant standard rule. The additional standards aim for reductions in annual caps for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NOx).

The shutdowns could happen by the end of the year, pending approval by grid operators, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and PJM Interconnection, and approval of the termination of certain tariffs by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The plant retirements will drive down Vistra’s allowed emissions by 57 and 61 percent for SO2and NOx, respectively, according to the company.

“Even though today’s retirement announcements were inevitable due to the changing regulatory environment and unfavorable economic conditions in the MISO market, they are nonetheless difficult to make,” said Curt Morgan, Vistra’s president and CEO. “By far, the hardest decisions we make in our business are those that significantly impact our people. As always, we will do right by those who are impacted by this announcement. Our employees take pride in the work they do, and we appreciate their decades of service providing reliable and affordable power to Illinois, particularly in years like this one with periods of extreme cold and heat.”[Native Advertisement]

As a result, the retirement of the four plants will further reduce annual allowable SO2 and NOx emissions in the MPS group of plants, driving total allowable emissions down by 57 and 61 percent, respectively, from that allowed under the former MPS rule. While not explicitly required by the MPS, CO2 emissions will also be significantly reduced by approximately 40 percent relative to 2018 levels.

Approximately 300 jobs will be eliminated across the four plant sites. Vistra is providing outplacement services and working with state workforce agencies to assist the employees impacted by the closures.

The 915-MW Coffeen coal-fired plant has operated for 54 years. Duck Creek, located in Canton, Ill.,  was completed in 1976 and has 425 MW in generating capacity,

The 434-MW Havana, Ill., plant is 41 years old. The 294-MW Hennepin site is, by far, the oldest among the Vistra properties with operations beginning in 1953.