Jan. 25, 2018 – The Herald Tribune
I recently spoke at an Illinois Commerce Commission hearing, held to consider electric power issues in downstate Illinois and especially the market policies and conditions that are adversely impacting power plants that are important drivers of employment and economic activity.
Good afternoon. My name is Marc Kiehna. I am a member of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners. I appreciate the opportunity to be heard and to provide input on this important issue. I grew up in Randolph County and was a member of a family whose primary breadwinner worked for Illinois Power Company.
My father, Melvin, was a line foreman and proud member of the IBEW local 702. Dad worked every day to route electricity to homes and businesses in Randolph County. His 35-year career included building high powered transmission lines which channeled power to our cities and villages. I was a high school student when Illinois Power Company started building the Baldwin power plant.
I remember how proud my father was that his company was building the plant. Not only was his company generating a massive amount of power in our county, but they were using Southern Illinois coal to power the generators. Jobs with good benefits were being created at the plant and coal companies like Peabody and Arch Minerals were hiring hundreds of miners, providing support for the families in our area.
Since the early 70s, the Baldwin power plant has provided sales and property tax revenue for the citizens of Randolph County. This general fund revenue has provided support for law enforcement, health care, the court system, and economic development. The plant also has provided a strong source of revenue for the Red Bud School District, Southwestern Illinois Community College, and other taxing districts.
Through the years, the citizens of Randolph County have had to adjust to changes at the Baldwin plant. Mining jobs were lost in the 1990s when the plant began to buy coal from Wyoming because of the EPA requirement to lower sulfur emissions. We saw a reduction of $1.2 million in sales tax revenue beginning in 2015, when Dynegy changed their purchasing of coal based upon the federal requirement to lower mercury emissions. With the recent mothballing of generation unit 3 we have seen the loss of good jobs, another reduction in sales tax, and it looks like a reduction in property tax revenue each year for the next 3 years.
On behalf of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners, I want you to know that we have grave concerns about the potential closing of Dynegy’s Baldwin Power Plant. The status of the plant and the problems associated with the marketing of its electricity have us worried for the future of the plant and our county.
I urge the Commission to recommend policy solutions like Senate Bill 2250 and House Bill 4141. This legislation will implement changes to the downstate Illinois power markets that will give our Baldwin plant and others a fair opportunity to remain open and compete in the market. It provides a change in the Market Place and not a ratepayer-funded subsidy like the General Assembly and the Governor have already imposed for the Exelon nuclear power plants.
The Baldwin Power Plant was built to serve Illinois homes and businesses, and it is always producing, regardless of the weather. It makes no sense to let Baldwin go into retirement. Baldwin is not obsolete. It may however, fall victim to a poorly-designed market — while we rely on power from out-of-state plants that were not built to serve Illinois consumers.
In conclusion, Randolph County appreciates the Commission’s efforts in studying the important issues relating to long-term power supply and the related local economic impacts to our community Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments today.
Dr. Marc Kiehna,
Randolph County Commissioner