Clean Coal Plant In Taylorville Would Be Economic Boon, NIU Study Finds

MAY 15, 2007 — TAYLORVILLE, ILL. — A proposed clean coal power plant in Taylorville, Illinois, would be an economic boon to the region, according to a study released today by Northern Illinois University (NIU). The study examines the likely economic impact of the construction and operation of the Taylorville Energy Center, a 630 megawatt power generation facility to be built by Christian County Generation, LLC (CCG).
“Construction of the Taylorville Energy Center will create more than 1,500 construction jobs, plus hundreds of permanent mining and power plant jobs,” said NIU Economist John Lewis, Ph.D., lead author of the report. “Our analysis indicates central Illinois will also benefit from a regional ripple effect that will create hundreds of new positions in industries such as retail, hospitality and health care.”

Illinois coal, while high in energy content, contains more sulfur than Western coal. As generators shifted to Western coal in response to environmental regulations, communities in central and southern Illinois were hit particularly hard. This report suggests the total economic impact of the facility for Illinois would be in the billions of dollars, with $1.1 billion coming from construction and hundreds of millions more generated annually from ongoing operations and the consumption of Illinois coal.

Taylorville Energy Center (TEC) would be the first clean-coal power plant built in the state. It will be among the most environmentally-friendly, commercially-sized coal plants in the world. With its integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology, coal is converted into a synthesis gas and broken down prior to combustion, allowing pollutants to be separated and removed before gas is burned, thus making even high-sulfur Illinois coal an environmentally viable fuel source.

“This project is good for the community and vital for Illinois’ struggling coal industry,” said Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association. “For the future economic development of our state, it is critical that this plant gets built.”

Illinois AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan added, “Construction of the Taylorville Energy Center will be an economic catalyst to kick-start our economy, creating good-paying jobs that help bolster working families.”

While TEC will be a boon to the region’s economy, the addition of 630MW of baseload power will also help stabilize electric rates and provide significant benefit for consumers.

“Coal gasification plants like the Taylorville Energy Center are a win-win-win for Illinois,” said David Kolata, Executive Director of the Citizens Utility Board. “They are good for economic development and the environment. And if financed correctly with cost-based rates, they are a good deal for consumers too. We look forward to working with all the interested parties to make these plants a reality in Illinois.”

Independent power producer Tenaska, as managing developer of CCG, sees the NIU report as confirmation of the importance of the plant to the region.

“Clean coal technology is the future of energy production in Illinois,” said Bill Braudt, general manager of Tenaska business development. “This new study from NIU shows that environmental protection and economic development can go hand in hand.”

The NIU report, officially titled “The Economic Impacts of an Electric Power Generation Facility in Illinois,” was conducted by Dr. Lewis and Senior Researcher Lisa Bergeron of the Regional Development Institute at NIU. It predicts the following economic impacts:

• Construction 

o Create 1500 full-time and part-time jobs with 793 additional jobs created in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, retail and professional services
o $1.1 billion in direct and indirect economic activity
o Total employee compensation of $334 million
o $9.9 million in total state and local tax revenue

• Ongoing operations 

o Create 663 direct and indirect jobs in Christian County
o $355.9 million in annual economic activity
o Average annual gross savings to Illinois customers of $190 million during the first eight full years of operation
o Total annual employee compensation of $24.3 million with average power generation facility employee compensation of $57,059 plus benefits, more than twice the county average of $26,415
o $4.47 million in annual state and local tax revenue

• Coal mining

o Create 416 direct and indirect jobs
o $78.5 million in annual economic activity
o Total annual employee compensation of $20.1 million with average mining industry employee compensation of $67,650 including benefits, more than two and a half times the county average of $26,415
o Plant operations will require more than 1.5 million tons of Illinois coal annually
o $9.2 million in annual state and local tax revenue

To facilitate development of the plant, Tenaska is seeking Illinois legislative approval of the Clean Coal Program Law which would allow power developers to enter into long-term contracts with Illinois utilities to sell their power. Illinois law currently prohibits such contracts. The law must be changed for Illinois to remain competitive.

Sponsored by Rep. Gary Hannig (D-Taylorville) in the House and Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) in the Senate, the Clean Coal Program Law has the support of the Illinois Coal Association, Clean Air Task Force, AFL-CIO, and Citizen’s Utility Board, among others.

Taylorville Mayor Frank Mathon urged the General Assembly to act. “Coal was once the lifeblood of this town. This plant will bring thousands of jobs and more than one billion dollars to our community. We need the general assembly to pass the Clean Coal Program Law and make this plant a reality,” Mathon said.

About Christian County Generation, LLC
Christian County Generation, LLC is a joint venture developing the Taylorville Energy Center (TEC). TEC is the first clean-coal power plant proposed for the state. It will incorporate integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology and be among the most environmentally friendly, commercially-sized, coal plants in the world. The project is a joint venture of Omaha-based independent power developer Tenaska and Louisville-based MDL Holding Co., LLC (formerly The ERORA Group LLC).