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Sierra Club wants cities to demand Prairie State investigation

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 10:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:07 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Residents plan to urge Batavia and Geneva city leaders to demand an investigation into Prairie State Energy Campus and Peabody Energy.

The Sierra Club held a meeting Tuesday attended by about 50 people at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, 102 S. Second St., Geneva. Betsy Zinser of Batavia and Bill Scown of Geneva spoke about the consequences of the contracts their cities signed.

The cities of Batavia and Geneva each have entered into a purchase agreement with the Prairie State Energy Campus, which is a coal-fired power plant some residents associate with increased electricity costs and environmental damage. The plant, located in Marissa, Illinois, was proposed and developed by Peabody Energy in the mid-2000s, according to a Feb. 28 letter from Rep. Tim Schmitz to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan demanding an investigation into Prairie State Energy Campus.

A Peabody Energy spokesperson late Tuesday afternoon told the Kane County Chronicle the company only has a 5 percent stake in Prairie State and referred questions about it to the officials of that campus.

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns said he did not plan on attending the meeting in a voice message left for a reporter at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, roughly 30 minutes after the meeting started.

"We did receive an invitation, but the invitation was clear that this was not a quote 'discussion,'" it was just simply a presentation from their perspective," Burns said in the message. "We certainly respect their opinions."

Betsy Zinser, one of the speakers at the event, said that the Attorney General's Office wants actual cities that have purchase agreements with Prairie State to demand the investigation. To that effect, the Sierra Club will gather petitions June 1 in Geneva, addressed to the Batavia and Geneva city councils and their respective mayors, urging them to demand the investigation.

The Sierra Club also urged residents to address the city councils during the public comment portions of councils' June 2 meetings.

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