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City Of Springfield Hires Consultant, Promises Plan For Coal Plant Decommissioning

Three smoke stacks from Springfield's City Water, Light and Power sit on the lake.
Daisy Contreras
NPR Illinois
Three smoke stacks from Springfield's City Water, Light and Power sit on the lake.

The city of Springfield is hiring a consultant to help with a plan to shut down part of its coal plant. This comes months after a report found three of the four generators are no longer economically viable.

Todd Williams, with energy firm Scott Madden, told the Springfield City Council Tuesday night that the firm would develop sets of recommendations for staffing levels, operations and maintenance whether the city decides to de-commission two of its generators or three.

“The goal is to have … an entire encompassing plan that then can be monitored and tracked by the [City Water, Light and Power] leadership as well as reported status to yourselves and, and to basically to provide transparency and quality,” Williams told the council.

CWLP chief engineer Doug Brown said a meeting to discuss high-level recommendations should happen by December.

Residents at a public meeting on Monday night questioned the mayor about when there would be a plan, with some expressing concern that the process was dragging.

Mayor Jim Langfelder said Tuesday they are working “slowly, but surely.” He said the discussion is timed with decisions on next year’s budget.

“I think everybody was in agreement where we're at now, [Dallman Units] 31 and 32 would be the first units come offline, and more than likely, that would be within a year or so,” he said. “And so we're right on schedule with regards to that.”

Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso said she welcomes the new advice, but wants to move towards a decision.

“We need to make some of the tough decisions and get this moving,” she said after the meeting. “No one's looking forward to closing down anything. But the reality is we are behind the times and that these units have outlived their usefulness.”

The spring report from The Energy Authority, Inc., suggested the city seek long-term power purchasing agreements and invest in renewable energy.

Still, Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer said he has questions about the future.

“I’m a little concerned about shutting down three units and only having one where if that goes down… we have no backup,” Hanauer said. “We'll see what they say. And we'll take it from there. “

Brown said the city will have to work with council members as well as employees to decide how to move forward.

“We did shut down plants in 2008 with the Lakeside units. So it's not like we're not familiar with it,” Brown said. “But it's just good to have, I think, some outside perspective.”

Get in touch: Mary Hansen can be reached at 206-6507, mary@nprillinois.org or twitter.com/maryfhansen.

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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