Vistra to Close Coal Plant in 2022 as it Transitions to a Cleaner Future

Vistra seeks to invest over $550 million across central and southern Illinois to build zero-emission renewable energy centers at plant sites

Vistra and its subsidiary, Electric Energy, Inc., are today announcing the retirement of the Joppa Power Plant by Sept. 1, 2022, three years earlier than previously disclosed. The revised closing date is part of an agreement Vistra has reached in order to settle a complaint brought by the Sierra Club in 2018 before the Illinois Pollution Control Board concerning allegations of environmental exceedances occurring prior to Vistra’s ownership. Due to the mounting financial and legal pressures that now come from operating coal plants, the company is renewing its call for passage of the Illinois Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act to facilitate Vistra’s $550-million repurposing of coal plant sites across central and southern Illinois.

“The hardest decisions we make are those that impact the dedicated men and women of our plant workforce and the local communities. In this case, we agreed to shut down the Joppa plant in light of the legal uncertainties and significant economic challenges facing the plant. First and foremost, we will work with our team members and the impacted communities to ensure a just transition, including our commitment to pay $1.1 million in incremental property taxes over three years,” said Curt Morgan, chief executive officer of Vistra. “As part of this just transition, we remain focused on passing the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act, which will enable us to reinvest and repurpose sites like Joppa into zero-emission generation, using existing infrastructure, creating jobs, and adding to the property tax base. We have a construction-ready plan to invest $550 million, including approximately $59 million at the Joppa location, to transform coal plant sites into renewable energy centers.”

Vistra is in the process of working with the plant’s local union leadership and will honor the plant’s locally negotiated commitments regarding severance and outplacement benefits, as well as wages, health care, and other benefits during the remainder of operations.

Vistra strives to provide workers and communities with as much advanced notice as possible ahead of a plant retirement and to be a part of the transition to a new future.

Joppa’s 2022 closure is an unfortunate reminder that our remaining MISO fleet continues to face challenges and is at risk of rapid closure for a variety of factors, most notably legal and economic challenges – the latter due to the dysfunctional MISO market in Illinois and significant maintenance costs. Vistra would like to reinvest in and responsibly reuse its Illinois plant sites so local communities like Joppa and Massac County can economically benefit from the transition to renewable electricity generation rather than being left as a non-productive former plant site,” Morgan continued.

Repurpose and Reinvest in Illinois Coal Plant Sites and Communities

Through the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act, Vistra proposes to invest more than half a billion dollars to develop approximately 300 MW of utility-scale solar and 175 MW of battery energy storage. This nine-site construction program would help Illinois more than triple its in-state utility-scale solar generation capacity and more than double its battery energy storage capacity – all by 2025.

If the Act passes, Vistra intends to build a stand-alone 45-MW battery energy storage facility at the Joppa plant, which does not have the site characteristics to support utility-scale solar. The new battery system would store enough electricity to power approximately 22,500 homes.

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