Local critics target NRG Energy’s Waukegan coal plant

Members of the Clean Power Lake County coalition on July 1 sent more than 2,500 petitions to NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) calling on it to establish a long-term transition plan and retirement date for its nearly 60-year-old Waukegan coal plant on Lake Michigan.

Waukegan is one of the coal-fired plants that NRG got earlier this year in a buy of bankrupt Edison Mission Energy and Edison Mission Energy subsidiary Midwest Generation. The plant includes the operating Units 7 and 8, rated at 326 MW and 355 MW, respectively. The other coal unit at the plant was previously retired.

“The Waukegan coal plant has polluted the community for decades, and it is time to forge a better path forward,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health at Respiratory Health Association.

The Clean Power Lake County Coalition, which includes several community organizations, faith, public health, and environmental groups, began collecting petition postcards during the sale process between Midwest Generation and NRG, amassing support from thousands of community members to start building a transition plan to phase out coal and invest in clean energy in Waukegan.

“NRG Energy needs to hear our voices loudly and clearly,” said Reverend Eileen Shanley-Roberts with Christ Episcopal Church in Waukegan. “It’s clear that our community is ready to discuss a future beyond coal.”

The environmental critics noted that NRG’s CEO, David Crane, has worked hard to publicly position NRG on the leading edge of the energy sector’s shift toward wind and solar. NRG’s Illinois business stands in stark contrast to NRG’s reputation as a clean energy leader, with 5,000 MW of large, outdated coal-fired plants forming the basis of that operation, the groups added.

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.