Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

March 1, 2013

Durbin upset with planned FutureGen appeal


Commerce Commission spokeswoman Beth Bosch said the agency knows about the planned appeals but hasn't yet seen the arguments on which they'll be based.

The FutureGen Alliance, the group of coal companies and others that have been working to get FutureGen built for years, expects the finance plan to survive the appeal.

"Appeals are a normal part of the process and will be resolved in due time," the alliance's CEO, Ken Humphreys, said in a brief statement. He added that the project will continue "without disruption."

Sen. Dick Durbin, a longtime supporter of FutureGen who has helped keep the project alive through past difficulties, noted Thursday that until January ComEd parent Exelon was part of the FutureGen Alliance.

"Exelon sent its smiling representatives to press conferences lauding the value of FutureGen," Durbin said in an emailed statement, calling the appeal a "heavy-handed betrayal."

Exelon is one of several companies that have left the FutureGen Alliance in the past few years, leaving it with six members companies now, according to spokesman Lawrence Pacheco. Thursday.

FutureGen has been the subject of political and financial difficulties for years.

It was initially proposed as a new power plant to be built near Mattoon in eastern Illinois that would have burned coal that had been cleaned up carbon dioxide. The CO2, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, would then have been stored underground.

The Bush administration started FutureGen but scrapped that plan over rising costs. But backers including Durbin complained that politics — Illinois was chosen over sites in President George W. Bush's home state, Texas — rather than finances had killed the project.

The current project calls for refitting the existing coal-fired plant and storing CO2 in underground locations nearby. Construction is scheduled to start in 2014 with the plant starting production in 2017, according to FutureGen.


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