CHICAGO – February 8, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin today announced that Caterpillar, a global leader in the manufacturing of heavy machinery, will join the FutureGen Alliance. This is the second major new Alliance member signed up in just over a week. Caterpillar's move signals critical support ahead of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (USDOE) pending decision to move ahead on FutureGen construction.
“I welcome Caterpillar’s investment in FutureGen and in Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. “The company's support – just over a week after another major Illinois-based company, Exelon, signed on to the project – is a clear sign that momentum for this project is gaining. This shows that the private sector stands alongside my administration and our local partners to move quickly and effectively once we receive the final ‘go’ from USDOE.”
FutureGen is designed to be the cleanest coal-fueled power plant in the world. The 275 megawatt facility will convert coal into hydrogen and electricity, while capturing and safely storing the carbon dioxide in sandstone formations a mile beneath the site. It will lay the groundwork for developing similar plants around the country and the world, pioneering the capture, rather than release of greenhouse gases.
At a time of high unemployment, FutureGen also creates jobs and economic growth. Initial estimates state that 1,300 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs would be created through FutureGen. In addition, a study conducted by Southern Illinois University showed that during the four-year construction period, there would also be 1,225 indirect and induced spin-off jobs created and more than $1 billion in economic impact statewide as a result of FutureGen.
"In just a little over a week, the FutureGen Alliance has added another strong partner with a deep connection to Illinois,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Caterpillar will bring a great deal to the table as the FutureGen Alliance and the Department of Energy continue in the final stages of negotiations. I look forward to welcoming many new FutureGen Alliance members – from Illinois and around the world.”
Last week, President Obama moved decisively to support the mission of FutureGen and clean coal projects to follow. Governor Quinn sent a letter to the President on Thursday praising his decision to establish an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The group will create a comprehensive and coordinated federal strategy that supports the use of coal in an environmentally responsible manner. In his letter, the Governor highlighted FutureGen’s readiness to serve as the flagship demonstration of CCS for the electric power industry.
“Clean-coal plays a critical role in our energy supply, energy security and environmental protection,” said Caterpillar Vice Chairman, Doug Oberhelman. “The FutureGen project will demonstrate carbon capture and sequestration technologies that are absolutely essential for the world to realize reductions in GHG emissions. This alliance recognizes the global nature of climate and energy challenges and will provide domestic and international communities the ground breaking technologies to assist in the shared goal of reducing GHG emissions.”
A major provider of coal extraction machinery, Caterpillar adds its support as the USDOE prepares to decide whether to move FutureGen to the permitting phase and to groundbreaking later this year on the site west of Mattoon that has been purchased for the project. The final go-ahead depends on increasing Alliance membership and dollar contributions from the private-sector support, as well as reducing total project costs. At stake is $1.1 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to re-launch the FutureGen project. The state has put together a comprehensive investment package that includes direct grants, financing incentives and tax-related savings, to help ensure that FutureGen comes to Illinois.
On January 30, Illinois-based Exelon, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities and energy providers, added its support to the project by becoming a member of the FutureGen Alliance partnership.