Illinois Consumers Shouldn’t be Forced to Subsidize Tenaska’s Power Plant
News reports in Illinois indicate that Tenaska, the developer of a controversial coal gasification project known as the Taylorville Energy Center, is conceding the facility won’t get legislative approval because of its exorbitant costs. In a last minute attempt to win over state lawmakers, Tenaska has changed the project into a less expensive natural gas plant, trimming the costs by two-thirds to about $1.1 billion. Tenaska has obviously missed the point, however, that consumers in Illinois shouldn’t be subsidizing any generation, regardless of the technology and cost.
Tenaska’s surprising last minute switch is an apparent attempt to convince critics and consumers they are now getting a “good deal” with the less expensive project. But Tenaska isn’t fooling anybody because its proposal would still force consumers to shoulder the astronomical costs of building an uneconomic power plant when the market is already providing abundant electricity resources at far more affordable prices.
Ensuring shareholders, not consumers, bear the costs and risks of constructing and operating expensive power plants is precisely why Illinois restructured its electricity market over a decade ago. As a result, all new supply resources added to the market since have been paid for by shareholders, not subsidized by consumers. Whether a coal gasification plant or simply a natural gas facility, Illinois consumers shouldn’t be forced to pad the bottom line for Tenaska for an uneconomic, unneeded plant.
Illinois lawmakers should reject Tenaska’s bait-and-switch maneuver and vote no on consumers subsidizing the company’s uneconomic power plant proposal. In the meantime, Illinois electricity consumers who don’t want to be forced to pay for the Tenaska project can click here to contact their legislator.