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Durbin again touts need for FutureGen project

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., met Wednesday with Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to discuss the department’s commitment to moving forward on the FutureGen 2.0 project.

“When I was in Illinois earlier this month, I joined members of the FutureGen Alliance and local labor unions to announce an historic labor agreement that moves FutureGen 2.0 one step closer to completion, while ensuring that the good-paying jobs it creates will stay in Central Illinois,” Durbin said. “Today, I met with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to discuss the importance of keeping this project moving forward in Illinois, and how we can continue working together to make it a reality.”

In February 2013, the Department of Energy signed a cooperative agreement with the Future Gen Alliance allowing the project to proceed to Phase II. The FutureGen Alliance is currently working to complete all the permitting, design, contracting and financing steps that are needed to begin construction on the project, scheduled to begin in September.

The FutureGen 2.0 project involves the retrofitting and repowering of Ameren’s idle oil-fired power plant in Meredosia to create the world’s first full-scale, oxy-combustion coal-fired plant designed for permanent carbon dioxide capture and storage.

The labor agreement announced earlier this month consists of a Memorandum of Understanding between the FutureGen Alliance and the leaders of 17 unions that includes three separate project labor agreements for three separate components of the FutureGen project: the power plant itself, the pipeline and storage site for the captured carbon, and an associated visitor and training center.

All three agreements give local unions responsibility for hiring craft labor. When the supply of local labor is exhausted, the local unions may then reach out to surrounding unions for any additional workers.

In addition to the jobs created by the project’s construction, a recent study by the University of Illinois estimated that the federal government’s $1 billion investment in FutureGen would lead to over $12 billion in economic benefits and create an average of 620 well-paying jobs – 400 of which would be in Jacksonville – for the next 24 years.

The visitor and training center will also help educate and train Jacksonville students in sustainable energy technology

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