Developers of the FutureGen project said Monday they have chosen an underground storage site in Morgan County for carbon dioxide generated by a western Illinois power plant they plan to refit with experimental low-emissions coal technology.
The FutureGen Alliance told The Associated Press it chose the spot over sites in Christian, Douglas and Fayette counties.
The Morgan County site is by far the closest of the four to the power plant in Meredosia, also in Morgan County. The plant is owned by St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation.
"Ultimately, the Alliance selected the site that best supported the overall mission of the project cost-effectively," said Kenneth K. Humphreys, chief executive officer of the FutureGen Alliance, the group of coal companies and other firms working with the U.S. Department of Energy on FutureGen. "This project will put Morgan County and Illinois on the global map as a center of clean energy technology."
Project planners say the sequestration site will mean more than 1,000 short-term jobs and a few dozen permanent ones.
Those jobs are more than welcome in Morgan County, which has lost several large employers since 2004, said Terry Denison, president of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corp., in the county seat.
"We've lost four industries that probably totaled a thousand jobs," he said before the decision was announced.
Carbon dioxide is linked to climate change. CO2 generated at the plant in Meredosia would be moved to the site through a pipeline that would be built.
The Department of Energy is providing $1 billion in federal stimulus funding to cover the bulk of the estimated $1.3 billion cost of the project.
Ameren, meanwhile, still is analyzing the costs involved in its end of the project, the power plant at Meredosia, spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said.
"We are very focused on this effort to determine that the project is technically and commercially sound," she said.
The current project was announced last year after the Energy Department scrapped plans to build a new experimental plant in Mattoon.