MORRIS -- Plans are set to close the Collins Generating Station by year's end -- a move than means millions in lost tax revenues for Grundy County and the loss or relocation of 94 jobs at the plant.

Employees at the plant were told Friday of Midwest Generation's plans to permanently close the natural gas fired plant by Dec. 31.

Rep. Careen Gordon, D-Coal City, has requested a state team to help worked obtain job retraining and unemployment assistance.

"This is a terrible blow to the families of plant employees," Gordon said. "I will do everything I can to ensure that the state provides all available resources to help displaced workers get through these difficult times."

Workers at the plant receive $10 million in pay and job benefits. Grundy County will collect $9.2 million this year in 2003 property taxes from the plant.

Doug McFarland, a company spokesman, said the decision to close the station was made in light of the high cost of operating the natural gas-fired facility.

McFarland said that the company saw "no viable buyers" for the plant which he described as obsolete and unable to compete with newer peaker plants.

Two of the units at Collins have been out of service for over a year. Three other units will be decommissioned and salvaged by December.

Midwest Generation operates six other power plants in Illinois. McFarlan said these plants are coal-fired, and are doing very well. He noted that some employees many be transferred to the company's coal-fired facilities at Romeoville, Joliet, Chicago, Waukegan, and Pekin.

Midwest Generation purchased the Collins Station for $4.8 billion in 1999 from ComEd. At its peak, the plant employed 162 people.