Peabody energy deal needs to be probed
As a Batavia resident, I'm extremely concerned about our contract with Prairie State Coal Plant via the Northern Illinois Municipal Power Agency. In 2007, Batavia was one of a few hundred municipalities across the Midwest who signed a contract to purchase electricity from the Prairie Coal plant, which Peabody Energy was to trying to build in southern Illinois. Peabody sold us on affordable, reliable and clean electricity for the foreseeable future.
None of these panned out. Costs for constructing the plant went a billion dollars over budget. Batavia has had to raise its rate and sales tax, and these don't even begin to cover the cost of our ownership. They have had to take $2 million from the city's utility reserves to plug what we owe and that still isn't even enough. Our costs are twice the industry rate and are continuing to rise. Likewise the plant is far from clean. It's, in fact, the largest point source of carbon dioxide built in the last 25 years in the U.S.
There's no reason that Batavia should be willing to raise costs for its ratepayers only to support a dirty and inefficient coal plant. So far, the council is unwilling to act and protect its ratepayers. Rep. Tim Schmitz has asked for an Attorney General investigation into this contract. It's time for our city council and the mayor to join him. If Peabody knowingly presented misinformation to our city and others, they need to be held accountable.