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May 30, 2001

Governor Announces $3.5 Billion Coal Program --Program will increase state's energy supply and create new jobs

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced a historic agreement with legislative leaders on a $3.5 billion package designed to reinvigorate the Illinois coal industry and to strengthen the state's ability to provide electricity to its citizens.

The legislation is the most comprehensive energy package in the country today and the most sweeping in Illinois history.

The legislation (HB1599) will provide tax breaks and financing incentives to builders of new electric plants generating in excess of 400 megawatts that create Illinois coal mining jobs, new and expanding coal mines and natural gas-fired base-load plants with capacity of 1,000 megawatts. The legislation also provides for a process by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to explore the need for a State level multi-pollutant strategy to reduce emissions from coal-fired electric generating plants.

"We have the resources right here in Illinois to provide low-cost energy to our consumers and businesses," Ryan said. "Now we will also have the tools to create well-paying jobs in coal mines and electric plants and provide homegrown energy to power our future."

The agreement was reached after Ryan crafted a balanced, bipartisan compromise with members of the General Assembly from wide-ranging legislative proposals advanced this spring in the wake of skyrocketing natural gas prices and a power crisis that caused temporary blackouts across California.

"I congratulate members of the General Assembly, as we are all winners when we can put people to work, better utilize a natural resource like coal and provide future energy security for all Illinoisans," Ryan said.

"This legislation will enable the state to take advantage of its wealth of coal resources, which can provide clean, low-cost dependable energy to our homes and business, without compromising the environment," Ryan said. "The state's nitrous oxide trading program will keep emissions capped and allows for companies to trade emissions allowances."

Among the major provisions are:

  • Designation of new electric plants and the coal mines that fuel them as High-Impact Businesses, providing those businesses with a number of tax incentives, including sales tax exemptions on building materials and equipment, utility tax exemptions and investment tax credits.

  • Creation of a $500 million financial assistance program for coal-fired generating plants equal to the amount of general obligation bond-funding that can be repaid by coal tax revenues gained on new Illinois coal purchases.

  • Up to $1.7 billion in revenue bond authorization to provide financing for electric plants generating Illinois coal mining jobs, including mine-mouth plants and plants that use clean coal technology, repayable by the developers.

  • Up to $300 million in revenue bond authorization designed to spur upgrades to the electric transmission grid within Illinois, repayable by the owner of the transmission lines.

  • Up to $500 million in revenue bond authorization to finance projects using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, and $500 million for existing coal-fired plants to add scrubbers to reduce air emissions, both repayable by the developer.

  • A review by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency of the need for new state regulations governing emissions by older coal-fired power stations not subject to stricter air quality restrictions imposed on new generating units.

  • Creation of additional local options for property tax abatement.

    Related to the coal package is an amendment to Ryan's earlier Executive Order creating a top-level Governor's Energy Cabinet. Under the revised order, the Cabinet will have the responsibilities in siting new electric generating facilities, overseeing the implementation of environmental regulations on new plant developers and streamlining the state permitting process for new generating plants.


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