Omnibus Energy Legislation Includes Framework Supporting Transformation of Nine Legacy Coal Plant Sites Into Renewable Energy Centers
IRVING, Texas, Sept. 15, 2021 — Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law SB 2408, the Energy Transition Act, a sweeping and comprehensive measure designed to move the State of Illinois to 100% clean energy, support a responsible transition away from carbon-intense power generation, and spur further diversity and inclusion in the renewable energy industry. Vistra (NYSE: VST) supported the legislation, which incorporated the company’s legislative priority known as the Coal to Solar & Energy Storage Act. As enacted, the legislation supports the company’s future build and operation of up to 300 MW of utility-scale solar and 150 MW of battery energy storage facilities at nine retired or to-be-retired coal plant sites across central and southern Illinois.
“We commend Illinois’ leaders and are grateful that they have taken bold action through a comprehensive measure that includes a first-in-the-nation program to transition the state’s fleet of legacy coal plant sites into zero-emission, renewable energy centers. Coal to Solar is good for the environment, plant communities, consumers, and Illinois’ economy,” said Curt Morgan, chief executive officer of Vistra. “With this framework in place, Vistra plans to build the state’s largest fleet of utility-scale solar and battery energy storage facilities in downstate Illinois communities to help the state transition to renewable, zero-emission electricity generation.”
The Coal to Solar & Energy Storage Act was sponsored by Sens. Hastings, Koehler, Rezin, Tracy, and Reps. Evans, Hoffman, and Welter prior to incorporation into SB 2408.
“This innovative proposal could not have become part of SB 2408 and passed without the extraordinary leadership, diligence, and dedication of our sponsors, and Senate President Harmon, Speaker Welch, and Governor Pritzker. We’re excited to get to work to help my home state decarbonize its electricity portfolio,” said Morgan.
Since acquiring its Illinois fleet in 2018, Vistra has taken decisive steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emission profile in the state. The company has previously announced that its Illinois-based, coal-fueled plants will retire no later than 2027. After the final coal plant retires, Vistra projects it will have reduced its in-state greenhouse gas emissions by 92% in less than a decade.
Vistra proposed the Coal to Solar & Energy Storage Act to help provide a responsible transition in plant communities and reuse the considerable infrastructure already at plant sites, including transmission lines and interconnects.
“Vistra is committed to the transition away from carbon-intense generation, but we can’t overlook the impact plant retirements have on workers and plant communities who face an uncertain future,” said Morgan. “We will support our dedicated energy workers, provide certainty, and have an orderly retirement process. This innovative framework facilitates action and reinvestment at our downstate Illinois plant sites, ensuring they can remain the economic engines for decades to come, providing a responsible and just transition for plant communities.”
Vistra supported several other initiatives in the Energy Transition Act regarding labor standards, increased contracting opportunities for diverse-owned businesses in the energy industry, and the utilization of a diverse and inclusive workforce at renewable energy job sites.
An economic impact study commissioned by Vistra estimated that its nine-site construction program would create more than 2,200 full-time equivalent jobs, generate over $180 million in earnings for workers and add over $300 million to the state’s economic output from 2022 to 2025, all in downstate Illinois communities.
Vistra estimates it will invest over $550 million to build the Coal to Solar & Energy Storage Act portfolio in Illinois. Pending all necessary regulatory and local approvals, Vistra intends to construct six combined utility-scale solar and battery energy storage sites and three stand-alone battery energy storage sites.