Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation on Tuesday that will help develop a state-of-the-art coal gasification facility in southern Illinois, creating 1,650 jobs and reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 90 percent. Following principles the Governor outlined in the spring legislative session, the new law will ensure consumer protections, create jobs and safeguard the environment.
“This important project will help revive the coal industry in southern Illinois while ensuring that Illinois remains a leader in the development of state-of-the-art, clean energy facilities,” Governor Quinn said. “We must continue to do everything we can to strengthen the state’s ongoing economic recovery through projects that create jobs while safeguarding the environment and protecting consumers.”
Senate Bill 2169, sponsored by Sen. James Clayborne, Jr. (D-East St. Louis) and former Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Steeleville), provides the framework for Power Holdings LLC to build a $2.3 billion facility in Jefferson County that will convert coal to pipeline-quality synthesis natural gas (SNG). The new law will utilize a pricing formula that shields customers throughout Illinois from historically volatile swings in the cost of heating their homes with natural gas from traditional sources.
As for what this might mean for the future of Tenaska in Taylorville, Bart Ford says this is a step in helping energy efficiency in Illinois.
[audio:bford85a.mp3]Listen to Ford's comments here.[/audio]
Ford adds that this project shouldn’t have an effect on the Tenaska project should it go before the Illinois Senate during the upcoming fall veto session.
[audio:bford85b.mp3]Listen to Ford's comments here.[/audio]
The legislation, which takes effect immediately, was modified from a previous bill considered earlier this year to include input from the Governor, the Citizens Utility Board, and other stakeholders. The new law includes significant consumer protections, including a rate cap and a reconciliation account to pass savings back to consumers. Power Holdings will also have to prove to state regulators that its construction and carbon sequestration costs, as well as operating expenses, are reasonable through annual reports and plant reviews. Pricing based on those costs will be guaranteed for 10 years, and Illinois' natural gas distributors will spread those costs evenly across their customer bases.