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Report: Power Plant Owner Could Abandon lllinois

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A published report says the Midwest Generation power company may leave Illinois altogether after closing two of its old coal-fired plants in Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio's Pat Cassidy reports, Midwest Generation plans to close its two coal-fired in the city – the Fisk Plant, at 1111 W. Cermak Rd. in the Pilsen neighborhood, and the Crawford Plant at 3501 S. Pulaski Rd. in the Little Village neighborhood.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Pat Cassidy reports


The owner of the plants, Midwest Generation, reached a deal with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to close the plants earlier than expected. Fisk will close by the end of the year, and Crawford will shut down by the end of 2014.

Environmental activists have been blaming the power plants for polluting the air with hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens.

The health effects caused by the soot, or particulate matter, spewed from the plants ranges far beyond those neighborhoods, increasing cases of asthma, chronic bronchitis, and more. Mayor Emanuel had campaigned on closing the plants.

But Crain's Chicago Business reports the closure of the two plants will mean the loss of 170 jobs. Another 160 jobs may be lost if Midwest Generation closes its plant in Waukegan in 2014, Crain's reported.

That would leave three larger facilities, in Romeoville, Joliet, and downstate Pekin. But those plants need some $628 million in upgrades to comply with environmental laws, Crain's reported.

Meanwhile, Midwest Generation reported $270 million in losses last year because wholesale power prices have dropped to the point where it cannot turn a profit, Crain's reported. For those reasons, Crain's reports, the possibility exists that MidwestGen's parent company, Rosemead, Calif.-based Edison International, will abandon Illinois altogether.

The company says it will need to divest assets if the power pricing crisis continues, Crain's reports.

If all of Midwest Generation's plants in Illinois close, 1,050 jobs would be lost, Crain's reported. Also, power prices – and by extension, your electric bill, could go up, the newspaper reported.

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