WBEZ | Fisk Generating Station http://www.wbez.org/tags/fisk-generating-station Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Fisk site future sharpens, new park space ideas proposed http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/fisk-site-future-sharpens-new-park-space-ideas-proposed-107595 <p><p>Potential buyers for Midwest Generation&rsquo;s defunct coal plant sites on the city&rsquo;s southwest side could come before a Mayor-appointed task force soon.</p><p>At a meeting in Pilsen Wednesday, Jerry Mead-Lucero, who heads the <a href="http://www.pilsenperro.org">Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization</a> (PERRO), said the group&rsquo;s original plans for a park (pictured below) that would span South Throop and Halsted Streets with a riverwalk were beginning to seem unlikely.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PERROProposalGreenSpaceFisk.jpg" style="height: 296px; width: 610px;" title="PERRO's original plan for a riverwalk emanating out from a small park on the Fisk site. (PERRO)" /></div><p>The former parking lot, outlined in blue above, will be retained by the future owner. The new owner&rsquo;s identity is still up for grabs, but Mead-Lucero said to his knowledge it&rsquo;s down from dozens of interested buyers to just two developers.</p><p>Instead Midwest Generation offered a parcel behind Chitown Futbol on South Throop Street, which could foster a smaller riverwalk west of the Fisk site. ComEd would maintain high-tension power lines overhead, however, which could mar the image of a hard-won riverfront park.</p><p>The Fisk site&rsquo;s future is a hot topic in Pilsen, where activists struggled for years to close the polluting power plant. As Mead-Lucero noted, its smokestacks still visually identify the neighborhood from miles around.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re kind of at a crossroads,&rdquo; Mead-Lucero said. &ldquo;Do we keep trying to fight for the vision that we had, which is probably a lost cause at this point &hellip; or do we try to improve upon it?&rdquo;</p><p>The alternative park location could actually be bigger than PERRO&#39;s original ask, Mead-Lucero said, but that depends on how much land ComEd and Midwest Generation agree to give up.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MG-ComEd-Delta-City-GreenSpaceAtFiskProposal-ComEdMGLand.jpg" style="height: 263px; width: 610px;" title="The new green space idea proposed by Midwest Generation and ComEd. The yellow outline bounds Midwest Generation's land. ComEd has offered the red portion, where powerlines run overhead. (PERRO)" /></div><p>Located in a park-poor industrial corridor, the Latino neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village have pushed for both new jobs and public green space. Last year the Mayor&rsquo;s task force <a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6258">investigated potential reuse options for the 132 acres that make up both sites</a>. The task force <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-emanuel-announces-plans-fisk-crawford-coal-plant-sites-102605">issued recommendations last fall</a>, calling for light industrial uses, retail development and public park space.</p><p>PERRO had hoped to tie in with an existing but little known riverwalk behind the Blue Cross Blue Shield building on W. Cermak Road. Patricia Saldaña Natke, principal &nbsp;of architecture and planning firm UrbanWorks, who <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/architect%E2%80%99s-pilsen-vision-green-and-fashion-friendly-107256">completed a master plan</a> for the neighborhood, <a href="http://youtu.be/54P8SlcYgzM?t=21m50s">called that riverwalk segment &ldquo;a hidden jewel.&rdquo;</a></p><p>In March EPA officials said tests for air quality and radiation around the Fisk and Crawford sites <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/fisk-and-crawford-pass-air-and-radiation-tests-lead-persists-nearby">showed no lingering pollution in the immediate area</a>.</p><p>But soil tests revealed lead contamination at troubling levels. The most affected areas were near copper smelter H. Kramer and Co., which&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/epa-lead-levels-too-high-pilsen-air-87913">was the subject of lead-emissions complaints in 2011</a>, and the old Lowenthal lead smelter site, where EPA tests in December found lead contamination 65 times the legal limit.</p><p>PERRO said EPA representatives <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130606/pilsen/contaminated-soil-near-community-garden-getting-cleaned-up-epa-says">could begin soil removal at the former Lowenthal site</a> by June 24.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at @Cementley.</em></p><p>Read <a href="https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9_FvLqe8tUyVU9sU1lDbzBJakU/edit?usp=sharing" target="_blank">PERRO&#39;s remediation and redevelopment plan for the Fisk site here</a>. Watch a presentation on UrbanWorks&rsquo; Pilsen master plan here, courtesy <a href="http://www.architecture.org/">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/54P8SlcYgzM" width="610"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 15:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/fisk-site-future-sharpens-new-park-space-ideas-proposed-107595 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 Power-plant emissions bill dead, but not for long http://www.wbez.org/story/power-plant-emissions-bill-dead-not-long-85522 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-21/hardhats.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A proposal for Chicago to regulate exhaust from coal-fired power plants may be dying. But the bill’s sponsor, Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward, says it will come back to life soon.</p><p>Moore’s legislation is stuck in a joint City Council committee chaired by Alds. Virginia Rugai, 19th, and James Balcer, 11th — close allies of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who opposes the bill. But Moore says he will introduce a similar version after Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel takes office next month and a new City Council convenes.</p><p>The proposal targets fine particulate matter, known as soot, that many health experts blame for respiratory diseases. It would also impose one of the nation’s first limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.</p><p>California-based Edison International, which owns coal-fired generators in two mostly Latino neighborhoods of Chicago, dispatched a top Latino executive to a Chicago City Council hearing Thursday. Pedro Pizarro, president of a company arm called Edison Mission Group, warned that the regulations would force the plants offline.</p><p>“If we take on, unilaterally, costs that our competitors don’t, we can’t compete,” Pizarro told WBEZ after the hearing. “We don’t protect the jobs for employees. We don’t end up serving our customers.”</p><p>The company’s Fisk and Crawford plants, which stand in Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, together employ about 185 workers. The company sells the electricity in the wholesale market.</p><p>Moore accused Pizarro of crying wolf. “Business and industry always claim we’re going to drive them out of business,” the alderman said. “And you know what? If you push them hard enough, they’ll do what they need to do. We have a cleaner environment and a stronger economy as a result.”</p><p>Spectators packed the council chambers for the hearing. Edison’s local unit, Midwest Generation, bused in about 300 employees. Many wore hard hats and blue work shirts. Outside the hearing, they chanted, “Save our jobs!”</p><p>A similar number of environmentalists and neighborhood activists attended to urge the bill’s passage. They tried to hijack the workers’ chant, changing it to, “Save our lives!”</p></p> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/power-plant-emissions-bill-dead-not-long-85522 Solis hangs on in 25th after power plant flip-flop http://www.wbez.org/story/25th-ward/solis-hangs-25th-after-power-plant-flip-flop-84808 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-06/1Solis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Ald. Danny Solis hung on in his 25th Ward runoff Tuesday. But the defeated candidate says he too has reason to celebrate.<br> <br> Solis did not support a proposal for the city to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants — he didn't, that is, until he fell short in the election’s first round and landed in the runoff.<br> <br> Solis says he needed to get in tune with constituents upset about the Fisk Generating Station, a coal-fired plant in Pilsen, a largely Mexican neighborhood in the ward. The flip-flop seems to have sealed his reelection.<br> <br> “I am committed to passing the Clean [Power] Ordinance in the city of Chicago,” Solis told his supporters Tuesday night after winning about 54 percent of the runoff vote.<br> <br> The losing candidate, Cuahutémoc Morfin, took credit: “We made him come to the right side of the issue in the environmental issue, which is the coal plant here, which pollutes the air that we breathe.”<br> <br> With Solis behind the power-plant proposal, it has a better chance of passing the City Council.</p></p> Wed, 06 Apr 2011 08:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/25th-ward/solis-hangs-25th-after-power-plant-flip-flop-84808