lump of coal


At the April 28 meeting, the Winnetka Council unveiled shocking new details on the proposed Willow tunnel. Cost projections have skyrocketed to $58.5 million from $34.5 million, a 70% increase, with the potential for costs to climb much higher. This project does not guarantee our basements won’t flood and will only clean up to 70% of the stormwater piped into Lake Michigan. This precedent setting project still needs to overcome difficult permitting hurdles and will inevitably face a vigorous legal challenge if the permits are approved. The project is also based on the hope that water pollution regulations will remain weak over the decades ahead.

We have been down a similar road before – let’s bear in mind the onerous lump of coal we have as a result. Back in 2007, Winnetka entered a long-term contract with IMEA, hitching us to the new Prairie State coal plant. While residents voiced concerns about coal pollution impacts, regulatory risks, high costs and rate increases – trustees assured we’d have cheap, clean and reliable power. As it turns out, Winnetka has been and will be paying one of the highest electricity rates for the dirtiest energy because of this bad deal – we are on the hook for a heavy coal mix until 2035. Prairie State may be one of the last coal plants to be built in the U.S. The cost to build it ballooned to $5 billion. Since opening, the electric industry has turned away from coal power because it is no longer competitive in today’s market. Now the EPA is setting new rules to cut carbon pollution from power plants, making coal power even more obsolete and expensive. Contrary to the overwhelming, bi-partisan American support, IMEA has been trying to blunt these critical environmental rules to protect its risky carbon asset.

Yes, we need effective stormwater solutions. But this time around, let’s not get locked into mega-priced, outdated, polluting infrastructure. The super tunnel and narrow focused fix is not in our community’s best interests. We need a modern, holistic approach the Village has yet to embrace. For example, although we have been assessed a new stormwater fee, one of the highest in the country, where are the incentives for best practices and green infrastructure? Why do the updated zoning rules now allow 100% impermeable lot coverage for new commercial developments, such as the Fell property?

On Tuesday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m., a council study session will be held to discuss next steps. Please attend and urge our elected officials to listen to the majority of residents that voted NO TUNNEL and seriously explore a full range of economically and environmentally sound alternatives.aracerprivate parties caricature???????????? ????????????????? ?? ????????? ???????????????? ??????? ? ???????????? ? ???????? ?? ???????