Midwest Generation today announced that it will retire its two Chicago power plants, as the result of an agreement forged with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago in consultation with community groups and aldermen. The Fisk Station at 1111 W. Cermak Road will be closed no later than the end of 2012, and the Crawford Station at 3601 S. Pulaski Road will be closed by the end of 2014.
The timing of the decision and the schedule for retirements was the result of a process Mayor Emanuel initiated on his first day in office. The company and City of Chicago have entered into an agreement finding that this timetable achieves the objectives of the proposed Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, which was first introduced in 2010 and reintroduced in 2011.
"Midwest Generation has made an important and appropriate decision today, which will be good for the company, the city, and the residents of Chicago," said Mayor Emanuel. "I committed during the campaign to work with all parties to address community concerns about the plants, and today’s announcement puts us on a more sustainable path for these neighborhoods. I acknowledge Aldermen Moore, Solis, Munoz and Cardenas for their work on this issue, and the community groups who helped to ensure all voices were heard in the process."
Ald. Solis, who is the Chairman of the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus, has the Fisk site in his ward; Ald. Cardenas is the chair of the City Council's health committee; Ald. Munoz' ward is home to the Crawford facility; and Ald. Moore was integral to the initial conversations about the alternatives for shutting down the plants.
The company and the Mayor said their focus will now shift to the future of the two sites, which may present redevelopment opportunities with funding from government, foundation or private sources.
"The city will convene appropriate parties to consider potential future uses, ownership and funding to transition the sites to such uses," said Emanuel. "We will bring together representatives of the city, the community, the company, labor, and local, state and federal agencies who may be able to assume leadership roles in creating a vision and turning it into a reality."
Citing environmental regulations that take effect through 2015, Pedro Pizarro, president of Midwest Generation's parent company, Edison Mission Group, explained Midwest Generation’s decision. "Unfortunately, conditions in the wholesale power market simply do not give us a path for continuing to invest in further retrofits at these two facilities. This is an extremely difficult decision because of the men and women who work in these plants and take great pride in their contribution to a reliable and affordable supply of electricity. We will work in good faith with leadership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to manage a transition for the dedicated professionals they represent."
The process undertaken by Midwest Generation and the City of Chicago also included community, public health and environmental groups, which have agreed they will not pursue certain pending litigation against Midwest Generation.
Once operations at the sites cease, Midwest Generation will maintain them in a safe and prudent manner as redevelopment opportunities and funding are explored. The retirements are subject to approval by PJM Interconnection, which manages the electric grid for 13 states, including northeastern Illinois. PJM must determine that the retirements do not pose a risk to the reliability of the grid.