The E.D. Edwards coal power plant in Bartonville would close in 2022 as part of the settlement of a 2013 lawsuit filed by several environmental groups.
The Clean Air Act lawsuit was filed by the Natural Resources Defenses Council, Sierra Club, and Respiratory Health Association. The suit alleged the Bartonville plant repeatedly violated opacity standards for smoke, particularite matter limits, and federal reporting requirements.
A joint statement was issued Monday by Illinois Power Resources Generating, LLC and the environmental groups. The settlement is subject to review by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. EPA. Final approval rests with U.S. District Court Judge Joe Billy McDade.
A copy of the full proposed settlement was not immediately available.
However, a NRDC release said $8.6 million would also be provided in the settlement for "projects that benefit Peoria-area communities."
J.C. Kibbey, the NRDC's clean energy advocate, said about $1.2 million would go towards job retraining programs. The remaining $6.9 million would go towards various local energy programs.
“This is a great example of what a just transition can look like. Unfortunately, right now, this is the exception rather than the rule," he said.
He advocated for passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which stalled in the last General Assembly.
The power company said the settlement will provide the 70 employees at Edwards with three more years of job security and a transition period for the community to prepare for the future.
State Rep. Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) blasted the announcement.
"This closure is the work of far-left groups who will stop at nothing to see good jobs ripped from our communities and our taxing bodies (like school districts) decimated," he said. "While they will tell you that 'retraining' will save these jobs and this revenue to our schools, the fact is that converting these plants from coal to solar will result in a 90% reduction in jobs and a 60% reduction in property tax revenues. This leaves the rest of our community to bear even more of the load of increased need for social programs and a higher property tax burden."
Kibbey said part of the $8.6 million settlement payout would go towards relief for local communities to make up for lost property tax revenue after the plant's closure.
Luminant is affiliated with Vistra Energy. That company announced the closures of coal power plants in Canton, Havana, Hennepin and Coffeen by the year's end, pending regulatory approval.