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January 9, 2006

Cutting-Edge Development Would Create Several Hundred Permanent Jobs

CHICAGO - Furthering his pledge to revitalize the Illinois coal industry and create hundreds of more jobs for working families, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $5 million in public-private support for the $1.1 billion Taylorville Energy Center, where Illinois coal from a new nearby mine will be converted through clean coal technology to a synthetic gas that can be sold or burned to generate electric power.

The ERORA Group, the coal gasification project’s developer, will receive $2.5 million for front-end engineering and design work from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and another $2.5 million from the public-private Illinois Clean Coal Review Board.

"By investing in innovative projects like the Taylorville Energy Center, we are proving that we can capitalize on one of our greatest natural assets in a way that will create hundreds of jobs. The only way we can make coal king in Illinois is to make it clean. We are leading the nation in the development of this cutting-edge technology, and the Taylorville Energy Center is great example of how we are growing our economy, while protecting our environment," Gov. Blagojevich said.

The Taylorville Energy Center, which would use 1.8 million tons of Illinois coal annually, is a proposed 777-megawatt facility. Electricity would be generated using what’s known as integrated gasification-combined cycle, or IGCC technology.

"Gov. Blagojevich’s support of clean coal technologies and the programs that he has initiated were critical components in ERORA’s decision to develop the Taylorville Energy Center with IGCC technology, allowing the plant to use Illinois coal in an environmentally responsible manner", said David Schwartz, an ERORA Partner.

"The Taylorville Energy Center is another important step in ensuring that more of our energy is homegrown and not imported. Gov. Blagojevich and I understand that by investing in coal gasification projects we can still grow our economy and protect our environment. This is a huge win for all of Central Illinois," State Senator Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) said.

"This is another strong signal that Gov. Blagojevich’s continued support for growing the coal industry is paying impressive economic dividends today and will continue to do so for many years to come. The future of the coal industry is coal gasification, and the Taylorville Energy Center is bringing it into the 21st Century and beyond," State Rep. Gary Hannig (D-Gillespie) said.

Construction of the power plant, set to begin in 2007, will create up to1,000 jobs. The plant will create 200 permanent jobs. Central Illinois will also benefit from the separately developed Central Appalachian Mining - Illinois mine, which would create approximately 200 permanent jobs and roughly 300 construction jobs. 

"Gov. Blagojevich has made it one of his top priorities to revive the coal industry and put more hardworking men and women back to work. By making strategic investments in the Taylorville Energy Center and other coal gasification projects, the Governor is following through on that commitment. This $1.1 billion project is an enormous economic boost and is a testament to the strength of the Illinois economy," DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.

Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.


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