WILLIAMSON COUNTY (WSIL) -- The Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC) is planning to shut down its largest coal-fired generator, known as Unit 4, on October 2.
The closure will result in 26 employee lay offs, while an additional 11 will accept a buy out offer.
The power plant, which sits on Lake of Egypt south of Marion, first started producing electricity in 1963. Unit 4 came online at SIPC in 1978 to keep up with electricity demand which had surged in previous years.
In June, CEO Don Gully told News 3 the plan to close Unit 4 is expected to save the company $125 million dollars over the next decade.
The main plant is expected to stay open and continue to run a small coal-fired unit and two natural gas units.
Illinois coal advocates argue that transitioning away from coal and fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, is a mistake for Illinois' economy.
"We're going to recognize that it's not as reliable as what they told us," said Ellen Grass, an advocate for Illinois' coal industry. "At that point, we're not going to have any choice but to go across state lines in order to get our energy. So once again, we're going to be paying someone else to give us energy and I just don't think that's a good place to be for Illinois. I mean we should be leading in this industry and we should be producers."
Southern Illinois Power Cooperative is jointly owned and governed by its seven electric distribution cooperatives and the City of McLeansboro. Those cooperatives are: Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association; Clinton County Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc.; SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative; Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc.; and Clay Electric Co-operative, Inc.
These member cooperatives, in turn, distribute electric power to nearly 80,000 metered-customers throughout southern Illinois, estimated to be representing 193,000 people.