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CLE ratepayers stuck with $5 billion coal plant

Posted at 9:39 AM, Jan 23, 2016

Cleveland ratepayers remain on the hook for a $5 billion coal fired plant in Southern Illinois after a founding owner announced it was selling off its share in the plant that produces electricity for 200 municipalities across the Midwest.

Peabody Energy announced it was selling its 5.06 percent share of the Prairie State Energy Campus in southern Illinois to Wabash Valley Power Association for $57 million dollars.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis called Peabody's decision "to sell its share of the Prairie State plant for roughly 20 percent of its original value is also the final insult to the ratepayers who are stuck with paying sky-high prices for power from this plant."

The plant has been under fire from environmental groups like the IEEFA for years after the original estimates to build the plant ballooned from $1.8 billion to $5 billion dollars, and the cost of electricity exceeded initial promises.

Cleveland and 60 other municipalities across Ohio signed onto purchase electricity from the plant and are helping to finance the cost to construct it through bond payments.

At one point, Cleveland was paying $250,000 a month in bond payments while electric costs were 30 percent. 

"The Prairie State Energy Campus represents a relatively small portion of CPP's power supply portfolio, and we do not anticipate any impacts from this transaction," a spokesperson for Cleveland Public Power said.

CPP says it will continue to monitor the situation, and its other municipalities across Ohio remain locked into contracts to purchase electricity for years to come.