Jul 30, 2014
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Winnetka's Power Plant Scandal "Quite Simply False"

The village's power supplier is calling out the study claiming Winnetka will pay astronomically higher prices for dirty energy, saying it's "deeply flawed."

Winnetka's Power Plant Scandal "Quite Simply False"

After revealing Winnetka residents might pay more for coal power than their green-energy neighbors, representatives with the village’s power supplier are coming out with guns blazing.

Kevin Gaden, President and CEO of the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, says last week’s study from clean energy activists is “deeply flawed,” citing roughly six areas in the document that are supposedly “simply false.”

“On August 29, an organization called the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis released a report that purports to demonstrate that the Prairie State Generating Company is uneconomic and a detriment to those power suppliers that are partial owners,” explained Gaden in a press release. “…This study’s authors either don’t understand or chose to ignore the facts related to PSGC or the energy markets.”

Want more details on this topic? Read our initial coverage of the controversy here: .

Gaden’s statement is similar to those of both Village Manager Robert Bahan and Brian Keys, the director of the village’s Water and Electric Department. Both told Patch Thursday that Winnetka receives less than 25 percent of its power from the coal-fired power plant, Prairie State, and future stability is the most important factor in the equation.

“It is important to remember that IMEA’s goal has been and will be long-term cost stability at competitive prices for its members and their customers, not the absolute lowest cost for each power supply component at any given moment,” Gaden wrote.

This is in response to the environmental group Sierra Club comparing Winnetka to green-energy neighbor Kenilworth. Kenilworth recently aggregated its energy, locking in some of the  in the north shore. Residents and small businesses will pay 4.11 cents per kilowatt-hour for 100 percent renewable energy, while Winnetka's 2012-2013 purchase power rate is 5.47 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“It is important to remember that IMEA’s goal has been and will be long-term cost stability at competitive prices for its members and their customers, not the absolute lowest cost..."

Gaden, however, says those green-energy prices won’t last.

“It seems that the alternative approach assumes that purchasing from the power market is, and always will be, a less expensive alternative to ownership in a resource,” wrote Gaden. “That is false.”

The statement from IMEA moves on to denounce multiple aspects of the study, including continuing cost increases for Winnetka residents. Gaden says any changing costs at the power plant are fixed, and “There is nothing new or hidden as implied by the study.”

By continuing to contract with IMEA, Winnetka hopes to avoid extreme fluctuations in power costs for residents. Multiple Midwest coal power plants are close to retirement, according to Gaden, and natural gas prices are too unpredictable.

Winnetka recently signed a contract with IMEA and the Prairie State power plant until 2035. 

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