Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Questions Surround the True Cost of Taylorville Energy Center

Overwhelming Number of Public Comments to Illinois Commerce Commission

From the Sierra Club:

Over 1100 public comments were submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), most of them questioning the true cost projections of the Taylorville Energy Center (TEC), a coal gasification proposal being reviewed by the Illinois Commerce Commission. Taylorville Energy Center power plant proposes to gasify coal into synthetic natural gas, which would then be either burned to create electricity, or sold to natural gas companies. This process is extremely energy intensive and can be harmful not only to the environment, but also to the pocketbook.

In hopes of receiving subsidies from the state, Taylorville Energy Center presented its Facility Cost Report to the Illinois Commerce Commission. If the state finds the TEC costs acceptable, every utility in Illinois will be required to purchase power from this power plant.

“This project makes no sense on so many levels,” says Verena Owen, chair of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, “from the almost certain effect it will have on the local and global environment, to the increase of electricity rates, to the misguided use of state and federal tax money – it’s unacceptable.”

The TEC project has received up to $25 million from state grants, approval for $500 million in loan guarantees from the Illinois Finance Authority and approval for $2.5 billion in loan guarantees from the US Department of Energy.

“This plant is being propped up by ratepayer, state and federal taxpayer money that would be better spent on cleaner, proven energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies,” says Becki Clayborn, regional representative of Sierra Club. “Instead, the state is taking on all the investment risk of building an experimental power plant that will still emit up to 3 million tons of global warming pollution annually, while TEC is taking practically zero risk on this project. The state and ratepayers are taking almost ALL the risk.”

The Illinois Commerce Commission, once having reviewed the Facility Cost Report, will send a report to the General Assembly for consideration. The General Assembly will then determine if utilities will be required to purchase power from the Taylorville Energy Center.

The Taylorville Energy Center is also waiting for a renewed air permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, as well as a Final Environmental Impact Statement from the US Department of Energy.

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