Prairie State CEO to PPS: "We Are Focused on Eliminating Everything that has Brought us Offline"
The Paducah Power Board and some of its customers heard first hand Tuesday from the new CEO of the troubled Prairie State Energy Campus. PPS is part owner of therecently underperforming coal-fired power plant in Illinois.
PPS’ debt service for it’s ownership of Prairie State and the plant’s related low performance has, in part, prompted customers to pay some of the highest power bills in the state.
Prairie State President and CEO Don Gaston previously served as the president of Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County, Ky. He’s been on the job for about eight weeks and discussed what’s found at the plant and how he intends to boost generation.
He says he’s working with highly competent leadership and approaches his role like he would if he was the coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats' men's basketball team.
“Kentucky players play as a team,” said Gaston. “I’ve got a lot of individual players on my team and it’s my job to mold them into a high performing team to give you the results and values that you expect.”
Gaston took questions from those present at Tuesday’s PPS board meeting and assured those present that he’s working hard to boost the plant’s output.
“What I can tell you is that my team and I are focused on eliminating everything that has brought us offline in the past,” he said. “I’m pledging to you that myself and my leadership team are going to do everything possible to make sure that we have the best mines, and the best look and the best actions to minimize any negative impact of our plant, on the community.”
Paducah Power’s Interim CEO Mark Crisson says upping Prairie State’s performance isn’t a panacea for the financial woes facing the local utility.
Currently customers are paying a “power cost adjustment” that’s tacked their bills to the tune of $0.0215 per kilowatt hour to cover the utility’s debt service and other costs hurting the utility.
Crisson says PPS is underway on a rate recovery planto bring down costs including restructuring the utility’s debt and finding a better way to market its power. The plan is targeted to reduce the “power cost adjustment” by July 1, 2015.