A clean energy group claims electrical agencies in St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia and Naperville are among 217 Midwestern communities and 17 cooperatives burdened by high electrical costs after they invested in the new Prairie State power plant.
The Prairie State Coal Plant: The Reality vs. the Promise, compiled by The Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, says the cost of power from the coal-fired plant in southern Illinois is 40 percent higher than the low costs promised to communities when the project was marketed to them.
Consequently, citing the report and a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, the Chicago Tribune said the average monthly rate in 2013 for Naperville has been $75.04 per megawatt hour, while St. Charles has been paying an average of $73.62, and Batavia and Geneva have been paying $64.55 per megawatt hour.
The Tribune contrasts those prices with the $56 per megawatt hour the city of Chicago pays through its municipal aggregation contract.
The communities were among the investors in the $5 billion Prairie State Energy Campus, a coal-fired plant in southern Illinois that was viewed as one option for cutting electrical power costs. But the Tribune reported the anticipated reductions have not materialized, although municipal officials believe they will in the long run.
Even so, the Tribune notes:
Batavia signed up to buy more power than it needed and will be selling off the excess at a loss for years.
The Tri-Cities are trying to ease the full impact of the higher costs on residents — St. Charles and Geneva are covering the additional costs through “adjustment charges” on residents’ bills. Batavia also is adding adjustment charges, but it also is minimizing that charge by dipping into reserves.
St. Charles’ estimated electricity delivery rate this year is 51 percent higher than in 2007, when most investors had signed on to the Prairie State Energy Campus project.
Based in Massachusetts, The Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis’ mission, according to its website, is “to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy and to reduce dependence on coal and other nonrenewable energy resources.”
Read the full report: The Prairie State Coal Plant: The Reality vs. the Promise
Read the full Chicago Tribune story.