Two midwest utility companies this week announced the closure of 10 coal and natural-gas fired power plants by 2015. The two utility companies, Midwest Generation and GenOn Energy, cited an inability to foresee a return on investment while facing necessary retrofits to comply with new EPA regulations on the reduction of mercury and other toxins. Two of the plants being closed are Fisk Generating Station and the Crawford Generating Station, both located on Chicago’s Southwest side.
Anti-coal activists are calling this a victory as it comes on the heels of the EPA instituting new rules under the Clean Air Act that limit the amount of mercury and other toxins that can be emitted under the agency’s new “Clean Air Mercury Rule”. Edison Mission Group, the parent company of Midwest Generation, said there is a surplus of energy in the area which made the decision to shutter their plants easier.
In addition to the Fisk and Crawford closures in Chicago — the two plants are located within densely inhabited areas of the city — GenOn will be closing 3,140 megawatts of facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. GenOn released information on the closures saying they made their decision, “because forecasted returns on investments necessary to comply with environmental regulations are insufficient.” Though shuttering these plants have already brought up claims of layoffs and increased energy costs this could be a great moment for the federal government to swoop in and carry out a plan to train the laid-off employees in new energy-efficient jobs and perhaps replace these carbon-heavy plants with efficient renewable energy sources that will ensure a clean energy future for the communities affected.