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Thursday, May 18, 2006 06:34 am

Power struggle

Four days to comment on new, less-polluting CWLP plant

Speak now or forever hold your breath. Springfield residents may opine on a proposed City Water, Light & Power plant until midnight Monday, May 22. After that, the comments will be compiled by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and made public as part of a responsiveness summary that will accompany the draft permit. To date, the Illinois EPA has received 14 comments, which are under review, says agency spokeswoman Maggie Carson. CWLP applied for its permit to build a new plant in 2004. The new Dallman Unit will replace its oldest two Lakeside Units on Lake Springfield. Last fall, the Springfield City Council approved a 34 percent electric-rate increase, to be phased in over two-and-a-half years, to pay for the $541.7 million project. The first increase, 9 percent, took effect Nov. 1. Officials at CWLP say that the Lakeside Units, built in the 1950s and ’60s, must be replaced to meet new environmental standards. However, controversy has arisen over CWLP’s decision to stick with a coal-fired plant; the Illinois Sierra Club argues that the city utility should explore more environmentally friendly solutions to satisfy city’s energy needs. Generating as much as 250 megawatts of power — three times that of the current plant — the proposed Dallman Unit, the Sierra Club argues, will emit three times as much pollution into the air, contributing to increased respiratory problems and global warming. For its part, CWLP insists that the new plant will incorporate cutting-edge technology to remove harmful pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide. Furthermore, says CWLP spokesman Ray Serati, the plant is expected to create 70 to 80 new jobs in Springfield. The plant is expected to be operational sometime in 2009, when the old Lakeside Units must be retired because of their age.
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