Saturday, July 14, 2012
Future Of Coal Gas Plant Now In Quinn's Lap
A year ago today, Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation meant to clear the way for construction of a plant on the southeast side of Chicago that would convert coal to natural gas. Now, the governor’s pen may yet again decide the future of the controversial project.
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) ruled this week that two gas companies would not be required to pay for all the costs to build the plant but only cover a percentage equal to the amount of gas they are each required to buy. “The commission determined that in accordance with the law, Nicor and Ameren Illinois would each be responsible for 42 percent of the capital costs and operational expenses, for a total of 84 percent of the total, since they are required to take 84 percent of the substitute natural gas plant’s output,” said a written statement from the ICC.
Supporters of the project are calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to sign Senate Bill 3766, which would override the ICC’s ruling and require the two utilities to pay all the construction cost.
“The southeast side of Chicago is currently a jobs desert, an opportunity desert. We need this investment,” said Dan McMahon, business representative for Carpenters Union Local 272. The plant is expected to create an estimated 1,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs after it is built.
But others representing industry throughout the state say the plant would be bad for business because it would increase rates far beyond the current cost of natural gas. “It’s not fair for rate payers in the Ameren and Nicor territories to subside 100 percent of the cost,” said Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturing Association. “Gov. Quinn, who is the founder of [the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)], now solely has the power of whether to sign one of the biggest rate increases in history or not.”
A spokeswoman for Quinn said the governor is reviewing the bill.
You can read Jamey's full report at: http://illinoisissuesblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/future-of-coal-to-gas-plant-rests-with.html
In the pic: Part of a coal to gas plant in Indiana.