SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – As the result of an aggressive effort to revive the state’s sluggish coal industry, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced plans for a $1 billion high-tech coal plant to be built in Will County on the grounds of the former Joliet Arsenal that will create hundreds of jobs and burn Illinois coal.
“This project is part of my initiative to promote the use of the state’s abundant coal reserves,” Blagojevich said. “Construction of this power plant will demonstrate we can burn Illinois coal without harming the environment and deliver new jobs for the mining industry in central and southern Illinois.”
Indeck-Elwood LLC will construct the 660-megawatt power plant as part of a more than 2,000- acre industrial development in Elwood and incorporate clean-coal technology to reduce emissions and use as much as 2 million tons of Illinois coal per year. The plant, which is slated to begin operation in 2006, will employ at least 80 workers in high-paying technical positions and create about 200 coal-mining jobs. During construction, the union labor force is expected to peak at more than 1,200 jobs.
“Indeck is pleased to be part of the team, which includes the state of Illinois, the BNSF Railroad and Centerpoint Properties, that will build the first clean coal power generating station in Illinois in more than 30 years,” said Tom Campone, president and chief operating officer of Indeck-Elwood LLC.
To facilitate the project, Indeck is eligible for about $50 million in financial incentives from the state, including about $25 million in general obligation bonds that would be retired using sales tax revenue paid for by tax revenue from the purchase of Illinois coal. In addition, as a “high-impact business,” the company can receive investment tax credits for machinery equipment and buildings and tax exemptions for building materials.
“This project will give a boost to the coal industry and create jobs for Illinois coal miners,” said
state Rep. Dan Reitz, D-Steeleville.
“The advanced technology to be used at this facility is a great example of the capabilities available to industry today,” said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Renee Cipriano. “We are pleased to see utilization of this modern technology to allow Illinois coal resources to be used without compromising our environment.”
"Coal provides the state with an important source of natural energy and jobs," said Jack Lavin, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. "The state is committed to providing programs that offer Indeck, and other clean coal projects, competitive opportunities and incentives in the national marketplace."
“Gov. Blagojevich is moving ahead on his intent to provide a broader market in the future for Illinois coal,” said Taylor Pensoneau, president of the Illinois Coal Association.
The state’s coal mining industry has suffered in recent decades as stricter federal air standards have forced many power companies to burn coal from western states rather than coal mined in Illinois that has higher sulfur content. Recent advances in “clean coal” technology allows power companies to burn coal mined in Illinois and meet federal environmental standards.
Of the 24 plants in Illinois that currently burn coal, only three – CILCO’s Duck Creek in Canton, Southern Illinois Power Co-op in Marion and City Water, Light & Power Co. in Springfield – burn Illinois coal regularly as a result of clean coal scrubbing technology.