Clean Coal Supporters Applaud Illinois Senate On Legislation; House Action Now Needed for Taylorville Energy Center



SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – A diverse coalition of labor, civic, environmental and coal industry leaders today commended the Illinois Senate for its overwhelming passage without opposition of HB 3388, the Clean Coal Development Program Law, and asked the House to pass the bill this session so the Taylorville Energy Center could move forward this year. The law would support privately developed clean coal Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plants in Illinois such as the Taylorville project.

Under development for five years, the 630-megawatt Taylorville project received its air permit from the Illinois EPA on June 6th after an intense two year process. As soon as the House passes HB 3388, the Taylorville Energy Center will move forward, bringing with it billions of dollars in economic development and rate relief, thousands of jobs and the ability to finally use high-sulfur Illinois coal in an environmentally responsible way.

Senator Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville), Senator Frank Watson (R-Decatur), other legislators and leaders from the Illinois AFL-CIO, United Mineworkers of America, American Lung Association, Illinois Coal Association, Clean Air Task Force, Christian County and City of Taylorville called upon the House to promptly pass the bill.

“The House must act now,” said Illinois AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan. “Building the Taylorville Energy Center will be an economic catalyst to kick-start our economy, creating good-paying jobs that help bolster working families.”

Sen. Deanna Demuzio, chief sponsor of HB 3388, added, “If the House passes this bill, it will completely revitalize Illinois’ coal industry and help keep a lid on energy prices. This technology will make Illinois coal a highly sought after fuel source. That means billions of dollars for our region.”

The Taylorville Energy Center will also help hold the line on electric rates. In joining many other newspapers that have editorialized in support of this project – including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chicago Sun-Times, and State Journal-Register – the Daily Herald recently pointed out, “Finally, no less a consumer advocate than the Citizens Utility Board backs the Taylorville plant because it would produce electricity relatively inexpensively, saving Illinois consumers an estimated $190 million a year by displacing more expensive sources.”

Construction of the Taylorville Energy Center will create more than 1,500 construction jobs, plus hundreds of permanent mining and power plant jobs according to a recent economic impact study from Northern Illinois University. The study also found that central Illinois would experience a regional ripple effect, creating hundreds of new positions in other industries from the Taylorville plant alone.

The Taylorville plant will also create new markets for Illinois coal through its clean coal IGCC technology. While high in energy content, Illinois coal contains far 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. Once built, the Taylorville Energy Center will be the cleanest coal plant in the world with dramatically lower mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions than existing coal-fueled power plants.

“We have more than 100 billion tons of recoverable coal in Illinois and we’ve only used a small fraction of that amount,” said Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association. “That’s more energy in Illinois than all the oil in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. We see clean-coal technology – coal gasification – as the future of economic development in our state.”

John Thompson, Director of the Coal Transition Project for the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force, added, “The Taylorville Energy Center will emit fewer pollutants in one year than a typical Illinois coal plant does in two weeks. Its IGCC technology enables high-sulfur Illinois coal to be used for power generation in an environmentally friendly way.” The American Lung Association of Illinois also supports development of Taylorville and other IGCC plants.

Of all the potential IGCC projects nationally, independent power developer Tenaska chose Taylorville because Illinois demonstrated a commitment to this project. Passing this legislation is now the critical next step.

“Unfortunately, the $2 billion cost of building a new plant like Taylorville simply cannot be privately financed without the ability to enter into long-term contracts with credit-worthy utilities. This legislation will provide for these contracts. Without the Clean Coal Development Program Law, it is difficult to see how this project can move forward,” said Bart Ford, Vice President of Development for Tenaska. “While the recently announced IPA law could be good for electric consumers in many ways, it is simply not going to get this project built.”

Taylorville Mayor Frank Mathon concluded, “Coal was once the lifeblood of this town. If the House passes the Clean Coal Development Program Law, our community and our region will gain more than $1 billion in direct investment, thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent coal mining, power plant and other jobs. We ask the House to move soon so work on this exciting project can begin.”

Details on the project, the technology and the law, along with numerous editorials and newspaper articles can be found at www.cleancoalillinois.com.