WBEZ | midwest generation http://www.wbez.org/tags/midwest-generation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Group pushes for soil tests around power plant http://www.wbez.org/news/group-pushes-soil-tests-around-power-plant-103117 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Fisk_station_Vance.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px; " title="Midwest Generation in August shut down its Fisk Station, built in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood in 1903. (Flickr/Steven Vance)" /></p><p>A company that is decommissioning Chicago&rsquo;s last two coal-fired power plants insists there are no hazards on either site, but a neighborhood group is pressing for soil tests and for disclosure of the results.</p><p>Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of California-based Edison International, shut down its Fisk and Crawford stations in August. The company says it is talking with about two dozen potential buyers of the sites.</p><p>A task force set up by Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office reported last month that the sites could now be used for light manufacturing and could offer public access to the nearby Chicago River.</p><p>But a report coming out Saturday says residents of the city&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood, where Fisk stands, want something done first.</p><p>&ldquo;Their number-one concern was, &#39;How is that site going to get cleaned up, how do we know it&rsquo;s not going to be a danger in the future, and how do we know what&rsquo;s there right now in terms of pollution and contamination?&#39; &rdquo; said Jerry Mead-Lucero, organizer of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, which held neighborhood forums and surveyed residents.</p><p>Midwest Generation President Douglas McFarlan said the public has nothing to fear about coal, ash and liquid fuel that his company and its predecessors stored near the plants. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s nothing inherently dangerous at the sites,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>McFarlan said Midwest Generation would comply with environmental regulations and said any cleanup would depend on the interests of the buyers.</p><p>Fisk was built in 1903. Crawford, which stands in the Little Village neighborhood, began operating in 1924.</p><p>The closings resulted from falling energy prices and federal clean-air enforcement that required retrofitting the plants. Activists had campaigned for more than a decade to close the generators or curb their harmful emissions, which included soot and carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming.</p></p> Fri, 12 Oct 2012 18:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/group-pushes-soil-tests-around-power-plant-103117 Activists rejoice as coal-fired plants shut down http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Fisk.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 219px; width: 300px; " title="Built in 1903, the Fisk station stands near Dvorak Park in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. (AP file/M. Spencer Green)" /></p><div>Neighborhood and environmental activists are celebrating as Chicago&rsquo;s last two coal-fired electricity plants enter a three-month decommissioning phase. But the closings are leaving dozens of Midwest Generation workers without a job.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The company, a subsidiary of California-based Edison International, says its Crawford station in the city&rsquo;s Little Village neighborhood burned its last lump of coal more than a week ago after operating since 1924. The Fisk station, constructed in 1903 in nearby Pilsen, shut down Thursday night.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Activists campaigned for more than a decade to close the plants or curb their harmful emissions, which included asthma-triggering soot and carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Standing near Crawford on Friday afternoon, Rafael Hurtado of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization almost had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn&rsquo;t dreaming.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The smokestack and the chimney are not running,&rdquo; Hurtado observed. &ldquo;The parking lot is empty other than the security guards. This is a victory not only for our organization but Little Village and Pilsen and the city of Chicago.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Local 15 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represented about 135 workers at the plants, says some are accepting retirement packages or transferring to another Midwest Generation site, where they will bump employees with less seniority. The union represents about 700 workers at the company&rsquo;s six Illinois generators.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There just aren&rsquo;t enough jobs,&rdquo; said Doug Bedinger, a Local 15 business representative for the workers. &ldquo;There will be hardship.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Midwest Generation President Douglas McFarlan said roughly 100 union members are leaving voluntarily while another 50 get laid off.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>McFarlan, meanwhile, said the company is trying to sell the Chicago sites. The timing of environmental remediation &ldquo;depends on the interests&rdquo; of the buyers, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s part of the sales process,&rdquo; McFarlan said, adding that a school might have different cleanup needs than a warehouse.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The closings resulted partly from federal clean-air rules requiring Midwest Generation to retrofit its plants. McFarlan said a bigger factor was the rise of natural gas production, which has put downward pressure on energy prices. &ldquo;We just can&rsquo;t run profitably,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 31 Aug 2012 18:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129 EPA hears testimony on coal power pollution http://www.wbez.org/story/epa-hears-testimony-coal-power-pollution-86991 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-24/Margaret Nelson Sings EPA.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Coal power plants in Illinois might have to reduce emissions to meet new federal standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.<br> <br> Midwesterners who testified at a public hearing in Chicago Tuesday afternoon were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed EPA plan. Chicago area resident Margaret Nelson voiced her approval through singing a song.</p><p>"What in ignorance we have damaged, we will work now to repair," she sang. "To the coming generations, leave an earth that's green and fair."<br> <br> The proposed rule would require reduced emissions of heavy metals including mercury, arsenic and acidic gases, among others.</p><p>Studies by the Harvard School of Public Health have linked pollution from Chicago's Fisk and Crawford coal plants to 40 deaths and 2,800 asthma attacks annually. The plants are located on Chicago's Southwest Side and still use generating units built between 1958-1961.<br> <br> More EPA hearings are taking place this week in Philadelphia and Atlanta.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 May 2011 22:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/epa-hears-testimony-coal-power-pollution-86991 Newly proposed EPA aims to curb toxic emissions from power plants http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-24/newly-proposed-epa-aims-curb-toxic-emissions-power-plants-86956 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-24/Fisk Flickr Carlyn Crispell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency will host a <a href="http://www.epa.gov/airquality/powerplanttoxics/actions.html" target="_blank">public hearing</a> in Chicago. It'll focus on new proposed federal rules to curb dangerous air toxins, such as mercury and arsenic. If adopted, these would be the first federal limits to regulate these emissions under the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/" target="_blank">Clean Air Act</a>.</p><p>The so-called toxins rule would apply to coal and oil fired power plants, including some located here in Illinois.<br> <br> To find out more, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke to Janet McCabe, the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the administrator with the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.<br> <br> And to get a sense for what the new rules would mean for local coal-fired power plants in and around Chicago, host Alison Cuddy also spoke to <a href="http://www.edison.com/ourcompany/mgmt_emg.asp?id=6776" target="_blank">Doug McFarlan</a>, the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications for Midwest Generation.<br> <br> Midwest runs a number of power plants in Illinois, including the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago.</p><p><em>Music Button: Bird Show, "Two Organs and Dumbek", from the CD Bird Show, (Kranky)</em><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 24 May 2011 13:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-24/newly-proposed-epa-aims-curb-toxic-emissions-power-plants-86956 Loop Coal! Just kidding. http://www.wbez.org/story/loop-coal-just-kidding-85747 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-27/Loop Coal.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>UPDATED: 4/27/2011 1:08 PM</p><p>Picture a brand new coal-fired power plant adjacent to the Loop, black smoke from its stacks drifting right into the Chicago Board of Trade just three blocks north. If that sounds far-fetched, it is. But plenty of people seem to be up in arms about it.</p><p>South Loop residents have been reporting receiving a pamphlet, ostensibly from Midwest Generation power company, touting the May groundbreaking of the Harrison Generating Station, to be located at Harrison and Wells. Trouble is, there is no such thing. According to the company and 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti’s office, the new power plant is a hoax.</p><p>A group calling itself <a href="http://cualc.wordpress.com/">Citizens United Against Loop Coal</a> called for a lunch-hour protest Wednesday. Dozens of commenters on South Loop blog <a href="http://www.sloopin.com/2011/04/power-plant-coming-to-printers-row.html">Sloopin</a> and <a href="http://www.yelp.com/topic/chicago-does-anyone-know-anything-about-midwest-generation-building-a-plant-at-harrison-and-wells">on other sites online</a> are expressing concern at what they take to be a genuine proposal to build a coal-burning plant in the heart of their neighborhood.</p><p>Wherever the prank originated, it comes amid an intense political fight over coal power in Chicago. Midwest Generation owns the Fisk and Crawford stations, located in Pilsen and Little Village, which are targeted by the proposed Clean Power Ordinance. That measure had a City Council hearing last week. The pamphlet distributed to South Loop residents features the Midwest Generation logo and contains copy that appears satire-tinged, such as, “Our South Loop plant will feature a green roof,” above a photo of nuclear-plant cooling towers.</p><p>“I have no idea what they’re talking about,” wrote Midwest Generation spokesman Charley Parnell. He added that an executive named in a letter that accompanied the pamphlet does not work for the company. Parnell cited protests last week at the Crawford plant, where police arrested several activists. “Given the arrests we had last week, I would not put anything past these people,” he said.</p></p> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 17:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/loop-coal-just-kidding-85747 Fate of Chicago coal plants could hang on election http://www.wbez.org/story/air-quality/fate-chicago-coal-plants-could-hang-election <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Fisk Smokestack.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>New leadership in Chicago&rsquo;s City Hall could reopen some old fights, including a long-standing battle over two power plants: Crawford and Fisk. In spite of lawsuits, regulations and politicking, the coal-fired plants still churn out electricity, and pollution.</p><p>Now a local ordinance to force them to clean up or shut down is getting a fresh look from officials and candidates. They&rsquo;re holding an unofficial hearing in the City Council chambers today. But just what would happen if they succeed remains a big question mark.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Gabriel Spitzer spoke with host Melba Lara to explain why the outlook for coal in Chicago may be about to change. &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 14 Feb 2011 17:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/air-quality/fate-chicago-coal-plants-could-hang-election