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September 25, 2001

2001 Governor's Illinois Coal Conference Examines State and Federal Energy Initiatives

SPRINGFIELD -- Coal and electric power industry representatives are meeting in Springfield this week for the 2001 Governor's Illinois Coal Conference. Industry leaders and government officials are looking to sustain the momentum gained in recent months by bringing into focus the benefits of Illinois coal as a reliable fuel source for the future.

The conference is taking place as the state prepares to launch Governor George Ryan's $3.5 billion coal and power plant development initiative enacted with bipartisan support during this year's legislative session. Over 200 conference attendees will also learn the latest on pending state and federal efforts to advance clean coal technology.

"Developing Illinois' abundant coal resources in an environmentally friendly way is essential to our future energy needs," said Governor Ryan. "We have perhaps the most aggressive set of incentives in the country to foster development of new coal-fired electric plants right here in Illinois."

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA), the conference's co-sponsor, is preparing program rules and application guidelines for the new coal incentive program. Those rules and guidelines are expected to be in place by mid-October.

"There is a lot of interest in this incentive program among a wide range of prospective developers," DCCA Director Pam McDonough said. "Only by building new, cleaner coal plants can we create the kind of substantial and stable markets that our coal industry so vitally needs."

The compromise Governor Ryan engineered on the Illinois Resource Development and Energy Security Act was the most recent of several successes his administration has achieved to revive the state's coal industry. Among them is the $25 million in state support Governor Ryan provided for Corn Belt Energy's pending development of a 90-megawatt electric plant in southern Logan County. The Corn Belt plant will employ a low-emission boiler system technology that represents some of the most advanced clean coal technology demonstrated anywhere in the nation.

Last month, Governor Ryan and DCCA put together an incentive package that will lead to the reopening of the Liberty Coal Co. mine in Saline County. Governor Ryan also has consistently increased state support for research through the Illinois Clean Coal Institute, for coal education and marketing and for competitiveness grants that have contributed $46 million to infrastructure upgrades at coal-related facilities in Illinois.

"The importance of our coal programs extends beyond the hard-working miners and coal producers who have sustained the industry through difficult market conditions," Governor Ryan said. "All businesses in Illinois depend on reliable and affordable energy. The potential provided by our rich coal reserves gives us a competitive advantage that few other states enjoy."

On Tuesday morning, September 25th, a panel of Illinois legislators and top state officials will discuss program implementation plans and the bipartisan compromise that led to enactment of the 2001 Coal Revival Initiative last spring. On Tuesday afternoon, a panel will focus on coal's role in the Bush administration's new energy policy followed by an update on clean-coal funding initiatives that are now making their way through Congress.

The keynote address at Tuesday's conference luncheon will be given by Gary Rainwater, chief operating officer of Ameren-CIPS, one of the region's coal users and power producers. The meeting reconvenes Wednesday with Illinois coal leaders discussing the industry's agenda for the future and concludes with a luncheon address by Llewellyn King, publisher of Energy Daily.

For additional information about the conference, contact DCCA's Office of Coal Development and Marketing at 217-782-6370 or TDD: 800-785-6055.


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