Lawmakers propose Illinois coal competitiveness plan
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, speaks Thursday about plans to push legislation that would support demand for Illinois coal.
From Illinois Business Journal news services
SPRINGFIELD— Democrat and Republican downstate lawmakers are proposing a plan to boost the use of Illinois coal in Illinois power plants.
“The time has come to take on Western coal. Our plan will increase demand for Illinois coal that is more efficient, cuts emissions and supports thousands of downstate jobs. It represents an estimated $1 billion savings to taxpayers and utilizes one of Illinois’ most abundant resources,” state Sen. Andy Manar said, during a press conference Thursday.
The plan would remove regulations that allow electric companies to shift the cost of importing Western states’ coal to electric customers. By eliminating these rules, lawmakers aim to make Illinois-produced coal more competitive.
“Illinois electric ratepayers pay a premium in their bills to import coal from Western states when we have abundant reserves right here. This policy needs to end immediately,” Manar said.
Illinois coal has a higher energy density, allowing it to burn 22 percent hotter than Rocky Mountain coal making plants more efficient, putting off more energy per ton and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Likewise, the proximity of coal power plants to Illinois coal mines reduces the transportation costs. It costs power plants an average of $26 per ton to transport coal from Western states and only $6 per ton to transport within Illinois.
Representative John Bradley, D-Marion, and Manar are leading the push to have the concept integrated into Illinois’ energy policy through legislation this session.
“The General Assembly’s consideration of energy legislation this year has been focused on the northern portion of our state, but it’s important to not lose sight of the needs of Southern and Central Illinois when thinking about a comprehensive energy policy that works for everyone,” Bradley said.
Illinois coal reserves are the second largest in the nation and greater than all but six countries. Coal underlies two-thirds of the state, and there are currently 24 mines in operation.