New King Coal offers to clean up coal-fired power plants, for free

Billionaire coal-magnate Chris Cline is offering to clean up two outdated coal-fired power plants, for free.

The plant owner, power-provider Dynegy says no thanks.

In a bizarre turn of events this week, Cline has sided with the environmental group Sierra Club in asking the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) to not grant time extensions for old coal plants to update their systems, Forbes reports.

Cline – owner of Foresight Energy, a coal miner – wants Dynergy to let him pay for the eco-friendlier upgrades and, in exchange, promise to buy his coal.

The Board has been granting five-year waivers to several old plants because of the huge costs associated with modern pollution control systems. Aged facilities don't have the required scrubber devices which remove sulphur dioxide emissions.

This week the IPCB was weighing whether to allow companies to continue delaying the installations.

According to Forbes, Foresight CEO, Michael Beyer, testified to the Illionis Pollution Control Board on Tuesday, stating that if Dynergy did not want to foot the bill – estimated at about $500 million – his company would. Otherwise, the miner could just buy the two plants, Beyer added.

Cline does not sell much coal to Illinois plants because they don't have scrubbers.

Dynergy is in the process of buying five outdated coal-fired power plants from Ameren – a holding company – and has been fighting to retain the five-year waiver which was originally granted to Ameren. The IPCB denied the request in June.