Illinois submits four sites for $1 billion coal plant of the future
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important step in continuing Illinois' leading role in developing
[MAY 5, 2006]
CHICAGO -- After three years of extensive planning
and preparation, Illinois has submitted four potential locations
that meet the rigorous site review standards established by the
FutureGen Industrial Alliance for the $1 billion
FutureGen coal-to-energy plant. The sites, which are located in
Effingham, Marshall, Mattoon and Tuscola, are part of the state's
bid to host this state-of-the-art facility. The alliance will
develop a short list of candidate sites this summer, and the final
selection will be made sometime next year.
"We have everything this $1 billion project needs to succeed,
including abundant coal reserves, ideal geology, well-developed
infrastructure and solid support from the Illinois congressional
delegation, the Illinois General Assembly, other local partners and
the state of Indiana," said Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. "By submitting
these four sites that meet the alliance's strict guidelines, we are
showing that Illinois coal can meet our future energy demands, using
cutting-edge technology that protects our environment. For coal to
be king again it has to be clean, which is why bringing the world's
cleanest coal plant to Illinois is so vital."
Using the rigorous
site review standards established by the FutureGen Industrial
Alliance, the sites were selected based on the recommendations of
experts from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity's Office of Coal Development, the Illinois State
Geological Survey -- University of Illinois, the Coal Research
Center -- Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, the Illinois
Clean Coal Institute, and the Illinois Coal Association.
"FutureGen is good for Illinois coal, and I have always believed
that Illinois is the best place to locate the facility," said U.S.
Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill. "Our federal, state and local leaders
are unified in the importance of this project and the need to burn
coal as cleanly as possible, putting more Illinois coal miners back
to work and helping the state and national economies. Given that we
have a 250-year supply of coal in the United States, it is a
critical piece of our efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign
sources of oil."
Illinois is among the leading states competing for this coal
plant of tomorrow, which will use coal gasification technology to
produce 275 megawatts of electric power, as well as hydrogen for
fuel cells and other industrial uses. Because capture of carbon
dioxide is critical to FutureGen's success, analysts selected the
final sites based on major factors related to the underlying
geology, water availability and other technical requirements set
forth by the FutureGen Industrial Alliance, which is developing the
facility for the U.S. Department of Energy.
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Since the two states share the same coal basin, Blagojevich and
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" in
December, stating that Illinois' strong financial support for coal
development, as well as its appealing geologic features, make the
state the ideal host for the federally supported project, while
Illinois supports carbon dioxide sequestration projects related to
FutureGen in Indiana.
"FutureGen's placement in the Illinois basin is the ultimate goal
of our partnership, so this step is good progress," Daniels said.
"Of course, we are encouraged by the Marshall site, near the Indiana
border, as being the most advantageous location."
Members of the FutureGen Alliance represent the largest energy
companies in the United States, plus a major energy company in China
and the nation of India. Among its major goals, FutureGen seeks to
show how carbon dioxide from the process of coal gasification can be
injected into and stored harmlessly in deep underground formations
of rock, sand and salt water.
At each of the potential Illinois sites, public information
meetings were conducted so that people could ask questions about the
research facility and show that the project was welcomed in their
communities. The public meetings were co-sponsored by the Department
of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and local partners.
"Illinois has been laying the groundwork for FutureGen since
2003, and we sorted through literally hundreds of very good
development sites throughout the state. It casts no negative
reflection on any of them that they were eliminated by the
super-specific, highly scientific guidelines under which we have
been forced to proceed," said Jack Lavin, director of the Department
of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. "Illinois is sitting on a vast
natural resource, with coal reserves that can produce more energy
than the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. But to take full advantage of
this resource, we must focus on the development of clean-coal
technology, particularly coal gasification, which is exactly what we
are doing here in Illinois and why landing FutureGen is so critical
to our efforts."