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Illinois Ruling Points at Coal Plants' Unsteady Future

CHICAGO (AP) - The Illinois Pollution Control Board will decide this week whether to give a Houston company extra time to install pollution controls at five Illinois coal-fired power plants that it doesn't even own yet.

It's a scenario that underscores the uncertainty facing an industry squeezed by environmental regulations and competition from natural gas.

Dynegy Inc. has said acquiring the plants from St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. provides the best future for the plants, employees and surrounding communities. But it says the deal hinges on getting the same waiver that Ameren did - a five-year delay in soot-control upgrades.

Ameren got the waiver after claiming a financial hardship. Dynegy says the same conditions exist if it acquires the plants, including lower electricity prices. 

Several coal-fired plants have closed in Illinois in recent years.

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