NRG Energy is closing two of its coal-fired power plants in Illinois, including one in Waukegan that residents have protested in favor of its closure for years due to health concerns.
The company cited low market prices and their transition away from coal as the reason for the closures.
“Closing these plants was a difficult, but necessary decision,” NRG Energy said in a statement.
The affected plants in Illinois are in Romeoville and Waukegan. They will close in June 2022.
The Waukegan plant, which is at 401 East Greenwood Avenue along Lake Michigan, employs 65 people.
“Employees will have the opportunity to apply for open positions within NRG,” the company said.
“We understand the impact this decision will have on our employees and the local communities. Employees will have the opportunity to apply for open positions within NRG,” the statement added.
NRG will also provide transition assistance and severance in accordance with their policies and will engage in Effects Bargaining with IBEW Local 15 for the employees they represent.
Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs for Respiratory Health Association, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the plant closings are a “testament to the tireless work of local community leaders living in the shadow of smokestacks.”
Urbaszewski cited a 2012 study that found almost a third of Waukegan High School students had been diagnosed with asthma or experienced asthma symptoms, the Sun-Times reported.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition said they applaud the work of Clean Power Lake County, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment (CARE) and many others for their “unwavering fight for environmental justice.”
“Years of work, hundreds of volunteer meetings, and thousands of petition signatures have made this moment possible,” the organization said in a statement.
“All eyes are on NRG and state leaders to ensure that communities are included in planning the transition of these plants and the polluted sites they sit on. The closing of the last Chicago-area coal plants also points to the urgent need to pass comprehensive clean energy legislation that includes provisions for a just transition,” the statement said.