Edwards coal-powered plant getting new use as battery storage facility

The towers from the Edwards Power Plant near Bartonville, Illinois.
The towers from the Edwards Power Plant near Bartonville, Illinois.(WEEK)
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 4:51 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Soon after their court-mandated deadline to close down shop by the end of 2022, Edwards Power Plant is shifting gears to battery storage.

The plant is currently decommissioning all the coal-powered portions of the facility. Plant owner Vistra said they will invest $47 million in the plant to create 37 megawatts of electric battery storage. That’s enough electricity to power 18,500 homes, according to Vistra.

Currently, they are powering off coal-generation-related systems, removing combustible materials, and cleaning up the facility. It also includes finding somewhere to store the large amount of coal ash by-product created by years of production. The by-product can contaminate water, ground, and air if left unattended.

Tracy Fox of Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance said her group would like them to move the materials to a “lined” landfill where they can be monitored to prevent the by-product from seeping into the ground or water. A lined landfill creates a barrier between the ground and the material.

According to Fox, Vistra has suggested covering the materials to prevent them from getting washed away in the rain and keeping the coal ash where it’s currently stored.

“All of it imperils our beautiful Illinois river,” Fox said of the ash. “Central Illinois Healthy Community’s preference would be that it gets carted away and put in a lined landfill to monitor and make sure it’s not contaminating groundwater.”

The changed Edwards site is one part of Vistra’s plans for up to 300 megawatts of solar and 150 megawatts of battery energy storage facilities through its transformational Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Initiative.

The facility will generate 88 jobs, according to the company.