Native leaders share the response to the accelerated shutdown of the Joppa | information



A picture of the Joppa power plant from October 2020.

JOPPA, IL – The deadline for a major power plant in southern Illinois has been postponed three years earlier than expected.

The Joppa coal-fired power plant should close sometime in 2025. Vistra, the parent company that manages the plant, relocated it until September 2022.

Vistra is the parent company of a manufacturing subsidiary called Luminant, which owns and operates the Joppa power plant.



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Brad Watson, Vistra’s senior director of community affairs, discusses the recent decision to close the Joppa power plant earlier than planned.

Brad Watson, senior director of community affairs at Vistra, said it was too difficult to make a profit on the investment. He added that a legal battle with the Sierra Club, a nonprofit environmental organization, was the main factor behind their decision.

“This is the hardest thing we do as a company when we have to tell our employees that we have to shut down a plant,” said Watson. “It’s hard for them. It’s hard for their families. It’s hard for the community. The Joppa power plant has been part of this community, this county, since 1953.”

The company has 115 employees at the local plant who will be unemployed sooner than expected.

Local impact



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Maple Grove Elementary School in Joppa, Illinois.

Joppa power plant employees and tax districts like that Joppa-Maple Grove School District, will be affected sooner than previously expected.

Massac County’s Assessment Supervisor Gary Hamm has overseen all changes to the Joppa Power Plant and its economic impact in Massac County.

“Last year, Vistra, or Electric Energy Inc., locally known, appealed their estimated values ​​for resolving to close their coal-fired power plant in 2025. At that point, their valuation was down $ 2.2 million reduced.” said Hamm.

The estimated value decreased from $ 11 million to $ 9 million.

Hamm said the prospect for the closure would not favor tax counties like the Joppa-Maple Grove school district. You receive a large percentage of the tax revenue from Vistra / EEI.



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2020 Massac County Property Tax Distribution

“About 65% to 70% of tax dollar revenue goes into this school district. So if you reduce an estimated value that you are sure to continue to do, that tax rate will go up and it will be felt by the other taxpayers.”

Hamm said the shutdown date change came suddenly, but communication between Vistra and the tax counties is vital to create a smoother transition for the lost revenue that Massac County will face.

“My previous conversations with Vistra and her lawyer were:” We want to work with you, your school district, your county and all tax districts so that we don’t lose all of this value at once, “said Hamm.

Watson described the plant as “the stuff of the community”. He said they would not close the building and leave the area.

“It’s $ 1.1 million that we committed to tax pain relief for fiscal years 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025 because we really want to try to help,” said Watson.

Hamm said the more than $ 1 million will not be given. It is likely that the power plant’s estimated value of $ 8.9 million will decrease by $ 2 million each year. He said this would add up to $ 1.1 million over the three years.

Turning point

In a press release, Vistra said its legal battle with the Sierra Club was one of two crucial factors in closing the power plant doors.

It states that “the revised cut-off date is part of an agreement Vistra entered into to resolve a 2018 complaint filed by the Sierra Club with the Illinois Pollution Control Board about allegations of environmental excesses that occurred prior to Vistra’s possession. “

Watson said the club filed a complaint alleging groundwater breaches on the factory premises related to the coal ash stored there.

“When we looked at the risk of a potential multi-million dollar fine and a very costly remediation, it was the cornerstone of an early shutdown that Sierra Club was pursuing in those negotiations,” said Watson.

Watson added that running coal-fired power plants is not getting any easier. “It is so difficult to run coal-fired power plants in southern Illinois economically because the electricity market there is currently down. It’s difficult to run a power plant profitably,” he said.

The doors to coal in southern Illinois are closing

The coal-fired power plant will be in operation until September 1, 2022. After that, it enters a shutdown phase in which most employees stay for an additional 30 days.

Watson said shutdown and retirement will continue until everyone is gone.

“We will offer severance packages. For those employees who are represented by union representatives, they will also conduct so-called” effect negotiations “for a severance package,” said Watson. “Those who aren’t will get a severance package, so these are the stages we would go through.”

Watson said the company wants everyone to keep working safely.

The reaction

The mayor of the metropolis, Billy McDaniel, described the news as “devastating”. He said the power plant was a life support for Joppa. McDaniel said the number of jobs a potential solar location will bring to the area won’t be compared to employment at the facility, but they will take what they can get.

Illinois State Representative Patrick Windhorst released a statement on the new closure plan.

His full statement reads:

“My heart breaks for the employees of the Joppa coal-fired power plant when it was announced this morning that the plant will be closing three years earlier than announced. Vistra, the parent company that manages the site, announced that it has reached an agreement with the Sierra Club, a radical environmental group that sued Vistra for violations it didn’t even commit: pulling the rug out from employees who were told they’d have a job three years longer than they actually got is It continues to be disappointing to see another company taken out of business by the radical Sierra Club, an environmental group whose goal is to end the use of all fossil fuels.

“The Sierra Club and Democratic politicians across the country are issuing policies and filing lawsuits that are destroying the coal-fired power plants and mines that have provided well-paid union jobs and affordable energy prices for homes in southern Illinois for decades, I hope the people of Illinois and the world will People in the United States are waking up to the Sierra Club agenda and democratic politicians, realizing that these policies are destroying jobs and ruining the economy.

“Southern Illinois is blessed with abundant coal reserves – a naturally occurring element used by major economies around the world as an affordable and reliable way to power large numbers of people. Vistra says it is helping transform homes into several Countries. ” Solar parks should be part of a comprehensive energy portfolio that includes the use of coal-fired power plants, natural gas and other renewable energy sources. “

The Sierra Club also released a statement saying the recent agreement with Vistra is an important step in ensuring critical assistance in the transition and preventing tons of dangerous air pollution.

I’m looking forward to

Vistra said they are asking again for the Illinois Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act to be passed in legislature. Watson said this would ease their $ 550 million plan to repurpose coal-fired power plants across Illinois.

Hamm said if they successfully put battery storage on the facility it could generate money, but not the number of jobs the facility was doing.

“The problem is the timing and I have a feeling that the transition will not take place where one ends and the other begins,” said Hamm. “I think you will see a void and that will be problematic for taxpayers who have had to fill that void for so long.”

For more information on property tax information, visit Illinois’ general property tax information page.

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