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In keeping with a growing national trend, Missouri’s largest utility will close a coal-fired power plant in south St. Louis County within the next eight years.

Ameren Missouri told state regulators it will shut down the 61-year-old Meramec coal-fired plant in Oakville by 2022, or possibly sooner pending stricter rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

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Environmental groups that want Ameren to reduce its reliance on coal are hailing the decision.

The Sierra Club sued Ameren Corp. in federal court earlier this year seeking to compel the company to reduce air pollution at the Meramec facility and two other area power plants. The lawsuit also asks a court to levy financial penalties for past violations.

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Ameren’s board of directors approved the Meramec closure in late June.

Late last month the Omaha Public Power District approved a 20-year generation plan that will retire three coal-burning units at the North Omaha Station in 2016, offsetting the loss of power generation with new and expanded efficiency programs.

In early June the Mount Tom Power Station in Holyoke, MA, said it will discontinue operations and the facility will shut down this year.

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