Wood River coal plant closing; dozens losing their jobs

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EAST ALTON, IL (KTVI) – A Wood River power station is shutting down Wednesday, as the plant’s owner says it’s no longer cost-effective to operate. But closing a power plant in the Alton-area could have tremendous impact across southern Illinois, on both electricity and the economy.

The shut down follows a trend of coal plants across the U.S. being retired due to tighter environmental regulations and lower prices for natural gas.

But Houston-based Dynegy, which operates the Wood River facility, say it’s closing this plant in particular because of what it claims are unfair market conditions, making it that much more expensive to keep open.

Dynegy plans to ask legislators to move downstate Illinois into the same electricity market that covers Chicago and some neighboring states. Critics say the company is upset over competition, trying to find a way to get around current regulations and maximize profits. Approximately 90 employees at the coal-fired plant are expected to lose their jobs.

Dynegy says it also plans to idle two other coal plants nearby in Illinois later this fall.

The Wood River Power Station is located along the Mississippi River, southeast of Lock and Dam 26.