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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Jul 28, 2016

Report: U.S. Utility Companies 'Have Become Expert Tax Dodgers'

Profitable U.S. utility companies are not paying their "fair share" in taxes, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Sep 12, 2013

Report: Pending Sale Of Five Illinois Coal Plants A Risk For Nearby Communities

Environmental groups say they are even more wary of the pending, no-cash sale of five Illinois coal-fired power plants from St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. to Dynegy, a Texas-based energy company, now that a new financial analysis has shed more light on the proposed deal.

According to a report issued Thursday by ACM Partners, an independent financial analyst, Dynegy is preparing for the high-risk purchase by creating an unfunded shell company, Illinois Power Holdings, to operate the five central and southern Illinois coal-fired power plants. The plants are located in Bartonville, Canton, Coffeen, Joppa and Newton.

David Johnson, financial analyst and the report's author, said the findings show that Dynegy is purposefully using a shell company for shareholder gain and to minimize any financial hardship for itself. Essentially, the company is taking "a cost-free gamble that energy prices will rise," Johnson said.

The analysis also found that Illinois Power Holdings won't have the proper capital in order to install coal-pollution controls at the plants, conduct daily maintenance or make regular repairs, among other concerns. 

It’s also likely that the Dynegy subsidiary will eventually declare bankruptcy, Johnson noted. And if it does, there's a risk that workers’ pensions would be left unfunded and local communities would have to pick up the tab for environmental cleanup costs. The company, however, would suffer no “ill effects.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Sep 9, 2013

National Report: 17 Illinois Coal-Fired Power Plants Discharge Toxic Water Pollution

A recently-released national report has sounded the alarm on coal-fired power plants that are dumping certain toxic metals into waterways without limits. 

Of the 274 coal-fired power plants nationwide that discharge coal ash and scrubber wastewater into public waters, 17 are in Illinois, according to a report released by Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club and other conservation groups. 

Not one of these Illinois coal-fired power plants has a cap on the amount of toxic metals, such as arsenic, boron, cadmium, mercury and selenium, allowed to be released into waterways, according to the “Closing the Floodgates” report. Few of them have requirements to monitor or report the toxic discharges to federal authorities. 

Quick Hit
by Matthew Blake
Mon Sep 24, 2012

Environmentalists Disquieted By Ameren Pollution Reprieve

In 2006, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich heralded a major environmental compromise with Ameren for which the St. Louis energy company would spend $1.6 billion to reduce mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in their Illinois coal-fired power plants.

Today, environmentalists fear that deal is in jeopardy after the Illinois Pollution Control Board granted Ameren a five-year extension Thursday for meeting new sulfur dioxide pollution standards. The company now has until 2020, instead of 2015, to meet the standards through installing pollution control equipment at their 1,186-megawatt plant in Newton.

Ameren contended that the double whammy of the economic downturn and lower electricity rates caused by the rise in natural gas competitors forced a delay in compliance.

Quick Hit
by Steven Ross Johnson
Fri Aug 17, 2012

Health Care Community Pushes Back Against Ameren's Attempt To Stall On Emissions Reductions

Education and health professionals joined environmental advocates this week to call on state officials to deny a request from downstate power provider Ameren to delay compliance with more stringent pollution-control regulation of its coal-fired power plants.

In a letter addressed to members of the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB), 96 physicians, researchers and healthcare professionals urged the body to uphold standards that would require coal-fired plants to significantly reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by January 1, 2015.