CHICAGO, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin today announced that the Exelon Corporation will join ranks alongside some of the world's largest energy corporations as a member of the FutureGen Alliance. Exelon's membership signals critical support ahead of the U.S. Department of Energy's (USDOE) pending decision to move ahead on FutureGen construction.
"As one of the nation's largest electric utilities and energy providers, Exelon's partnership on this project provides critical support to our ongoing effort to bring FutureGen to Illinois," said Governor Quinn. "FutureGen will be the first facility of its kind to demonstrate the latest technology in electric power generation while capturing and safely storing greenhouse gas emissions. It's also an opportunity for our State to illustrate clean-coal capabilities that will once again place Illinois coal on top and create much-needed jobs during a critical economic time."
FutureGen is designed to be the cleanest coal-fueled power plant in the world. The 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.
"Two years ago, FutureGen was declared dead. Today, we welcome a new partner into an Alliance which is more committed than ever before to building the nation's first large-scale, integrated carbon capture and sequestration plant – we have come a long way," said Senator Durbin. "Exelon is very familiar with the needs of our state. Because of that connection to Illinois, they bring a lot to the table as the FutureGen Alliance and the Department of Energy enter into the final stage of negotiations. I am confident that this is the first of many new members – from Illinois and around the world."
Exelon's support comes ahead of a pending announcement by the USDOE on the next phase of the project. A final go-ahead has been made subject to increasing the membership of the Alliance and reducing total project costs. At stake is $1.1 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to re-launch the FutureGen project. With final approval from the DOE, the Alliance is prepared to break ground this year in Mattoon.
"Coal plays an enormously important role in our nation's energy supply, so it is critical that we explore the most promising technologies for reducing – and even eliminating – harmful emissions at coal-fired power plants," said John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon. "The FutureGen project represents an important opportunity, here in Illinois, to leverage private and public funds and expertise to advance clean coal technologies that may one day help solve climate change."
Mattoon was chosen to host the FutureGen project in December 2007 after a rigorous three-year national site review process.
Once the facility is operational, FutureGen would generate $135 million annually in total statewide economic output, according to the study, with an $85 million annual increase in Coles County and vicinity. It will also create an additional 360 indirect and induced fulltime jobs statewide, according to the report.
"We are extremely pleased to have Exelon, one of America's largest utilities, join FutureGen. Today's announcement will help to further discussions that the Alliance is having with other companies who have expressed interest in FutureGen membership. Together, we will be in a position to deliver the next generation of low carbon energy technology to Illinois and the world," said FutureGen Alliance CEO Michael Mudd.
Joining Governor Quinn and Senator Durbin at the FutureGen announcement were Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Warren Ribley, Senior Vice-President of Exelon Power Doyle Beneby and Michael Mudd.
SOURCE Governor's Office, State of Illinois