MT. VERNON – In another important step towards revitalizing the Illinois coal industry and creating more jobs for Illinois families, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation which will help increase the use of Illinois-mined coal by supporting the use of clean-coal technology, providing energy security and promoting economic development throughout the state.
“Legislation such as this allows us to take a national leadership role in clean-coal technology. In doing so, we’re seizing a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate to the world that there are innovative and environmentally-friendly ways to use more Illinois coal, which will give this critical industry an important economic boost. By continuing to support the use of clean-burning Illinois coal, we continue to support the creation of more good jobs throughout this state,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
State Senator James Clayborne (D-East St. Louis) and State Rep. Kurt Granberg (D-Centralia) sponsored Senate Bill 90.
“Gov. Blagojevich and I believe that Illinois coal can play an important role in a comprehensive, sustainable energy plan for this state. This legislation will continue to develop the market for clean coal technology, allowing us to mine more Illinois coal that not only reduces our dependence on foreign energy sources and creates good jobs, but does so in an environmentally responsible way,” Sen. Clayborne said.
“The slumbering Illinois coal industry has a better chance of bursting back into business with this initiative by reopening mines and creating an estimated 1,400 new jobs,” Rep. Granberg said. “This innovative legislation has the potential to relieve shortages and high pricing by creating natural synthetic gas, thereby resulting in lower, more stable prices for consumers.”
SB 90 supports production of ultra-clean, high-efficiency coal gasification facilities that will produce synthesis natural gas (SNG). The legislation sets a price for SNG that is typically between 18-30 percent cheaper than that of conventional natural gas, potentially offering significant cost savings to consumers.
The legislation permits gas utilities to enter into 20-year supply contracts with any SNG producer using Illinois coal, provided that the Illinois Commerce Commission does not determine that the cost of natural gas is unreasonable or imprudent.
This guarantee is designed to permit developers of new SNG facilities to secure sales contracts to obtain project financing. This will allow developers to move forward on these kinds of environmentally-friendly projects creating new markets and jobs in the Illinois coal industry.
The legislation, along with other initiatives spearheaded by Gov. Blagojevich, puts Illinois in the lead nationally in the deployment of ultra-clean technology known as Integrated Gasification-Combined Cycle (IGCC). It is fast-emerging IGCC technology that allows Illinois coal to be used as a feedstock for important energy products such as SNG, electric power and low-sulfur diesel fuel.
Using coal in such value-added circumstances creates jobs and investment in Illinois and, at the same time, reduces U.S. reliance on imported, price-volatile products like crude oil, natural gas and nitrogen fertilizer.
SB 90 is effective immediately.