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SPRINGFIELD (JG-TC) -- The House Agriculture and Conservation Committee has approved legislation to allow for the construction of a small scale "clean coal" power plant west of Mattoon.

"This is great news for Eastern Illinois, anytime we have an opportunity to bring more jobs to our region; it’s a win-win,” said state Rep. Reggie Phillips, R-Charleston, in a press release. He is sponsoring this legislation.

Phillips introduced House Bill 4236 at the request of Angela Griffin, president of the Coles Together economic development corporation for Coles County. The press release reported that, according to Griffin, the new power plant could create an estimated 400 temporary construction jobs and 40-60 full time jobs, with average salaries of $80,000 per year.

The intent is to build a small 77 megawatt net "clean coal" generation plant at the site of the old FutureGen clean coal power plant facility. The press release reported that the power plant would be built solely with private funds.

Current law states a goal that Illinois generate 25 percent of its energy from "clean coal" facilities. The press release reported that due to the fact that no "clean coal" facilities currently exist, this goal has never been met.

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“This new development will bring much needed jobs to our state. If we are successful, this new clean coal power plant would be the first one to operate in Illinois, a historic opportunity not only for our region, but for our state as well,” Phillips said.

House Bill 4236 is now headed to the House floor, where it is set to be voted on by the entire Illinois House of Representatives. The proposal would change the Illinois Power Agency Act, which allows the state to enter into power purchase agreements with clean energy companies. The proposal would increase the types of projects that are eligible.

Griffin has said the proposed amendment "creates a pathway" that would open the FutureGen site to development by a company, Mattoon Power Enterprises LLC, that has expressed interest in developing a project there

The location at the southwest corner of the intersection of Illinois Route 121 and Dole Road west of Mattoon was selected in 2007 for the plant that was said to be designed to sequester emissions underground. However, the county withdrew from consideration three years later, when federal officials revised the plan to have the coal plant in another location and have only the emissions sequestration in Coles County.

Griffin has said Coles Together has been seeking an alternative energy project for the site ever since then. Coles Together is marketing this property, as the organization bought the 440 acres from the FutureGen group after the county withdrew from consideration.

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