SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A coalition of thousands of Central and Southern Illinois workers, families and community members supported by the Illinois AFL-CIO along with 20 local union organizations, 11 mayors, 28 members of the Illinois General Assembly and 5 members of the Illinois Congressional delegation are rallying together to encourage Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) to support thousands of Illinois workers and many communities who critically depend upon the Ameren Energy Resources (AER) energy centers as an economic lifeline in the depressed economy.
The effort is in support of Illinois Power Holdings' (IPH a Dynegy subsidiary), request to the IPCB for temporary relief from Illinois' Multi-Pollutant Standard air emissions rule. IPH's variance petition seeks the same relief as the existing variance granted to AER in September 2012, in which the IPCB recognized both the environmental and economic benefits of doing so.
The variance is a closing condition of the proposed sale of Ameren Energy Resources (AER) to IPH. With this transaction, Dynegy plans to double its operations in Illinois as a responsible neighbor and major employer offering highly-skilled, well-paying union jobs. AER operates energy centers in Joppa, Newton, Bartonville, Canton and Coffeen which employ more than 600 high-paying jobs, pay $13.3 million in annual local property taxes, support 6,294 Illinois jobs and generate more than $338 million in annual household earnings for Illinois residents.
"Dynegy has stepped up to help support much-needed union jobs and economic activity in Illinois," said Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. "On behalf of our members and the entire coalition, we encourage the Governor to support the thousands of men and women who depend on the energy centers. We also ask the members of the Illinois Pollution Control Broad to grant the request for temporary relief to ensure reduced emissions and high environmental standards while protecting the economic livelihoods of Illinois families and local communities, especially in hard-hit Central and Southern Illinois."
If the variance is granted, IPH will help provide certainty to the employees and communities in Central and Southern Illinois that count on the economic benefit of the continued operation of the AER energy centers. Without the variance, AER will be forced to pursue other options for its energy centers, creating insecurity for the future of the plants and those who depend upon them – including local communities and the regional economy.
Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, believes that the IPCB should approve the request because little has changed since AER's request was granted last year. According to Whitley, "The challenging market conditions, including a sluggish economic recovery and depressed power prices, are as relevant as they were back in September 2012. And with the commitments made as part of the variance, the Board has determined that the variance will result in a 'net benefit to air quality.'"
"Good Paying jobs are critical to individuals, families and businesses in Central and Southern Illinois. These jobs are our livelihood. We're not Chicago here with a handful of jobs at our picking," said Robinson Mayor Roger Pethtel, "If the Board does not grant IPH its variance request the implications will be devastating to my community, with negative ripple effects stretching across Illinois."
Because of the economic downturn's impact, current market prices simply do not allow further investment in the installation of pollution control equipment required to achieve compliance with the current, existing MPS. Although IPH seeks the same extension as the IPCB granted AER last year, it has agreed to further reduce emissions beyond current requirements, fulfilling its commitment to protect the environment.
"AER and IPH are strongly committed to reducing air emissions from their Illinois energy centers," said Robert C. Flexon, president and CEO of Dynegy. "Dynegy has spent approximately $1 billion on environmental controls in Illinois, while AER has also contributed more than $1 billion in pollution control equipment. Our variance request helps provide certainty to the employees and communities in Central and Southern Illinois that count on the economic benefit of the continued operation of the AER energy centers."
The Newton Energy Center supports 739 jobs in the local market-area and generates much needed dollars that pay taxes critical to supporting the schools, emergency response systems and local governments in dozens of surrounding communities.
"Approximately 50% of my community's property tax revenue comes from the Newton Energy Center. 41% of that goes to our school district," Newton Mayor Mark Bolander said. "If the Newton Energy Center shuts down, so will our schools, the City of Newton and Jasper County. The economic impact will be insurmountable, and the ripple from this devastation will affect not only Jasper County, but also surrounding counties."
Mayor Bolander's support is joined by Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, Pekin Mayor Laurie Barra, Hennepin Village President Kevin J. Coleman, Effingham Mayor Merv Gillenwater, Village of Baldwin Mayor Danny Jones, Spring Valley Mayor Walt Marini, Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel, Robinson Mayor Roger Pethtel, Havana Mayor Mayor Brenda Stadsholt and Joppa Village President Les Little.
"The survival of the Joppa Energy Center is vital to my community," said Les Little, President of the Village of Joppa. "My community will lose countless benefits if a similar variance is not granted to IPH. And during uncertain times, such as now, this will have a significant impact on our local economy. It's a horrible thought."
"The Joppa Energy Center is important to our entire county and beyond," said Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel. "340 jobs in the area depend on the energy center, which generates more than $46 million in annual household earnings for Illinois residents. We simply cannot afford a negative decision."
The IPCB is expected to make a decision on the variance request before Thanksgiving. People are encouraged to support the variance request by visiting www.isupportillinois.com. A full list of the coalition is available at www.dynegyinillinois.com/supporters.