Sierra Club appeals Illinois coal plant decision into court

The Sierra Club said Jan. 2 that it has filed an appeal in a state court of the Illinois Pollution Control Board’s (IPCB) decision to grant Dynegy (NYSE: DYN) five more years to comply with state public health law.

That November 2013 approval, to essentially transfer a clean-air break the board had previously granted to Ameren (NYSE: AEE), was the last approval needed before Dynegy closed in December 2013 on a buy of coal-fired capacity from Ameren.

The Sierra Club appeal of the board decision was filed in Illinois’ Fourth District Court in Springfield on Dec. 26.

Dynegy told the board that complying with existing clean air standard would cause it undue financial hardship. The IPCB voted three to one in favor of granting the variance, with the dissenting opinion of IPCB Chair Deanna Glosser doubting Dynegy’s claims of financial hardship, the club noted.

“The Illinois Pollution Control Board was presented with detailed testimony that a variance was inappropriate under the circumstances presented by Dynegy,” said Holly Bender, Deputy Director for The Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign. “The Board’s dangerous precedent could allow other polluters to challenge Illinois health and safety laws because they hurt the company’s bottom line. As articulated in the dissent from IPCB Chair Deanna Glosser, the Board not only failed to factor in the risks of coal pollution under prior Board precedent, but also ignored the blatant corporate gamesmanship that created the appearance of economic burden.”

Said the board in its Nov. 21 decision: “Petitioners have committed to an overall SO2 annual emission rate of 0.35 lb/mmBtu from 2013 through 2019 in conjunction with the continued closure of the Meredosia and Hutsonville stations, increased efficiency of the FGD units at the Coffeen and Duck Creek stations, the use of low sulfur coal, and compliance with an overall mass SO2 emissions cap of 327,996 tons from fourth quarter 2013 through 2020. The Board finds this compliance plan satisfactory, as it results in an overall reduction of SO2 emissions from fourth quarter 2013 through 2020, and provides a net benefit to Illinois air quality.”  

The operating coal plants given additional compliance time under this decision were:

  • Coffeen Energy Center (Montgomery County, 895 MW);
  • Duck Creek Energy Center (Fulton County, 410 MW);
  • E.D. Edwards Energy Center (Peoria County, 650 MW);
  • Joppa Energy Center (Massac County, 1,167 MW); and
  • Newton Energy Center (Jasper County, 1,197 MW).
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.