By Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis -We commend the citizens of Batavia for stepping forward to take legal action in search of straight answers and a fair deal from the Prairie State coal plant.
Disturbingly, many of the documents behind Peabody Energy’s $5 billion coal plant and high-sulfur coal mine have been hidden from the public. This legal action will bring the facts to light and hopefully put an end to the unreasonable price of this unnecessary plant.
Batavia has raised electric rates to the max. It raised sales tax to pay for the high cost of this plant, and has received state subsidies to keep major businesses from leaving town. Our research has shown that the businesses and citizens of Batavia will pay approximately $118 million in excess power costs in the ten years 2014 – 2023 because of Prairie State. We don¹t see this financial pain for Batavia or the other municipal participants in the plant ending in the foreseeable future. The cost of power from Prairie State will continue to be very expensive even if the plant reaches its operational goals.
Peabody Energy sold 95% of the ownership – and the financial risk – of the Prairie State complex to over 200 municipalities across the Midwest, including Batavia, in 2007. Its behavior is currently being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Batavia legal action also reaffirms the need for the Illinois Attorney General to open an investigation of this matter.