Update: July 2010
The cost of this plant has skyrocketed to over $4.4 billion! That's more than double the original cost Peabody estimated back in 2001. Because of this massive increase, Peabody has said they will put a cap on the final construction costs for this plant - capping it at $4 billion. But that's just for the construction costs, leaving out costs for other aspects related to this plant, including the associated mine, transmission lines and railroad costs. All of these costs will be passed on to the ratepayer, meaning increased energy costs if this plant ever goes online.
When this plant was first proposed Peabody used it as an example of "low cost energy." Year later, the people of Illinois are faced with higher rates when the "low cost" plant turned out to be more expensive than stated. "Beware of a coal company promising you low-cost power," said Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club's national coal campaign. " We predicted four years ago that this was going to be a bad deal for ratepayers. But we never envisioned they would get hosed this bead even before Prairie State generates a watt."
Update: April 2010
Construction on this plant is ongoing. Once complete, it will supply wholesale power to Farmers Mutual Electric members. And just like with other proposed plants, the cost of this plant will be passed on to the ratepayers with increased rates. Prairie State hopes to be online in the next couple of years.
Update: January 2010
Debate over this plant continues during construction. While the 700 foot smoke stack is being built, local communities and environmental groups are still voicing their opinions about this plant. If completed, Prairie State will cost over $4 billion and will release tons of CO2 into the atmosphere since its construction permit does not regulate CO2 emissions. But even with the health and environmental impacts of this plants, several local communities are hoping this plant moves forward with construction so they can see an increase in jobs for the community.
This debate highlights what is happening all over the country - the supposed tradeoff between clean energy and jobs. The truth is there is a way to have a clean energy future while at the same time creating green jobs. Visit our Clean Energy Solutions website for more information!
Update: October 2009
Parts of the generators for this plant have arrived in Illinois. Because of their massive size, it is an extremely difficult taks to bring them to the construction stite in Washington County. The 443 tom part will take 2 days to travel the 14 mile distance between the construction site and the river port where it was delivered. This massive undertaking requires a caravan of police cars, utility trucks, forklifts and international moving and rigging companies. Whole streets were closed in several town and steel reinforcements were placed on streets to protect sewers and other infrastructure. This process will be repeated in the future since this is only a part of one out of two generators for this plant. The first generator is expected to be online the summer of 2011, the second following the next year.
Update: September 2009
After two years under construction, the Prairie State power plant is only 25% completed. Although developers say construction is ahead of schedule, they have also exceeded the budget consultant's budget set last year. To date, developers have spent $4 billion to build this plant. And this price is expected to rise before the plant is completed in 2012.
Coal disposal will also be an issue for this plant. Developers plan to dispose coal waste at a mine site near Marissa, Illinois. However, this site is close to numerous lakes and electricity transmission lines, which makes it difficult for the developer as well as a health hazard for people living in this area.
Like most coal plant developers, Prairie State claims this plant is bringing hundreds of jobs to US workers. However, it is important to note that this plant will have all the steel delivered from China along with a steam turbine delivered from Japan, clearly jobs that are being created outside of the US.
Update: July 2009
Funding for this plant is going ahead as planned and developers hope to have this plant operational by 2011.
Update: July 2008
The EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board ruled that the issued air permit was valid. The facility is expected to be on line in 2011 or 2012. In response, Sierra Club is considering its next step.
Update: October 2007
The air permit is currently being appealed at the Federal Court of Appeals.
Update: August 2007
On August 24th, 2007, a Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed the air permit issued by the EPA for Peabody Energy 's Prairie State coal-fired power plant. After the Federal EPA's Appeals Board affirmed the permitting decision, environmental groups took their claims to the Court of Appeals. Judge Richard Posner, who was on the Court of Appeals panel, explained that the permit was affirmed because the Plaintiff's request for the company to use a less polluting coal source would have forced the company to redesign the plant and this redesign fell outside of the Clean Air Act's requirements for plants to use "best available control technology."
With the ruling from the Court of Appeals, Peabody states that the company has all major permits necessary to begin construction and expects to start in October with the project taking up to four years to complete.
Update: May 2007
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing submitted on May 3, 2007, Michigan-based CMS Energy Corp., the proposed operator and 15 percent equity partner of the proposed Prairie State coal plant, announced that it pulled out of its involvement in the proposed plant explaining that the plant "does not meet [their] investment criteria, including the level of power purchase agreements for our share of output."
The air permit case is scheduled to be argued on Thursday, May 31, 2007 at the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, Illinois at 9:30 am.
On October 25th, 2006, the Sierra Club, the American Lung Association and the American Bottom Conservancy joined in a petition to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit challenging the air permit for a proposed 1500 megawatt coal-fired plant. This massive plant, proposed by Peabody Energy and Prairie State Interest Group, would emit 12 million tons of greenhouse gases annually and accelerate global warming. In addition, the Prairie State Energy Campus (as the project is known) would emit a variety of other pollutants harmful to human health such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide.
The proposed Prairie State coal-fired power plant would be constructed in Washington County, Illinois. If built, the facility would generate approximately 1,500 megawatts of power and emit more than 25,000 tons of soot and smog-forming pollutants every year. (The average power plant in the United States generates 213 megawatts.) The plant would be located less than two miles from the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, where asthma rates are twice the national average. The plant would also emit large amounts of mercury at a time when every lake, river and stream in Illinois is under a fish consumption advisory due to high mercury levels. The plant's outdated coal-burning technology would use 18 million gallons of water daily from the Kaskaskia River, which would harm the river's fish populations and other aquatic life. Finally, the plant would emit more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
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