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updated: 8/19/2014 11:35 AM

Batavia named in suit over electricity plant deal

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Editor's note: Batavia and Peabody Energy Co. are respondents in discovery in a lawsuit concerning the Prairie State Energy Campus.

A Batavia businessman and resident is suing the city to investigate its investment in the Prairie State Energy Campus.

Joe Marconi announced Monday night at the Batavia City Council meeting that he was filing a class-action lawsuit Tuesday in Kane County Circuit Court.

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Batavia and Peabody Energy Co. are named as respondents in discovery in the suit. Peabody is the company that built the electricity-generating plant and the coal mine that feeds it. The named defendants are the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, the consulting division of which advised Batavia about the Prairie State project; Sargent and Lundy LLC of Chicago, another consultant to Batavia; and Raj Rao, who was president and chief executive officer of that consulting division. Rao is now the chairman of the Prairie State Generating Co. management committee.

Marconi's attorneys have set up a website for the lawsuit, prairiestateenergycampusclassaction.com.

Marconi announced his lawsuit during the public comment portion of the meeting; the city council did not respond.

He said he is seeking other plaintiffs to join the lawsuit. He is hosting a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Batavia Public Library, 10 S. Batavia Ave., he said.

"We have distributed 1,140 pieces (fliers) of the big meeting we are going to have Thursday. ... Everybody that I have given one of these to has just thanked me so much for doing something about the high electricity rates and the high taxes in this city," Marconi told the council.

More details about the suit will be released Tuesday morning, according to a spokesman for Marconi.

Batavia is a member of the Northern Illinois Municipal Power Agency and purchases power from it. NIMPA owns a stake in the Prairie State plant, which started operating in 2012.

The cost of electricity from the plant is much higher than what was expected when Batavia and Geneva were deciding whether NIMPA should invest in the construction and operation.

Peabody sold most of its stake in the plant to municipal power cooperatives and utilities throughout the Midwest, retaining 5 percent of the ownership for itself.

Marconi owns at least six properties in Batavia, according to Batavia Township assessment records, including the commercial building on the southwest corner of Batavia Avenue and Wilson Street downtown.

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