FutureGen Alliance Selects Mattoon for Near-Zero Emissions Coal-fueled Power Plant • Moderate La Nina Persisting, Warmer February Expected • Good Samaritan Initiative is for Those Without Utility Service • Department of Defense to Use Biofuels for Jets • New Tax exemptions for Veterans • The World Must Help China and India Handle Energy Growth • Center Will Focus on Training for Coal Industry • Energy Act Creates New Energy Efficiency Standards
FutureGen Alliance Selects Mattoon for Near-Zero Emissions Coal-fueled Power Plant
FutureGen, a coal gasification facility that will convert coal into hydrogen and electricity while capturing and safely storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide deep underground, will be built in Mattoon. It will lay the groundwork for developing similar plants around the country and the world, pioneering the capture and storage of greenhouse gases. By sequestering the CO2 in deep geological reservoirs more than one-mile underground in the Mt. Simon Sandstone reservoir, emissions are eliminated.
The site evaluation process was rigorous, transparent and held to the highest level of scrutiny. The U.S. Department of Energy’s environmental review was thorough and resulted in finding all four candidate sites worthy of being selected. The Alliance used more than 120 different factors in the general areas of cost, risks to cost and schedule, and benefits in making the final selection.
Other states including Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming supported Illinois’ campaign for the facility. These states represent almost two-thirds of coal produced in the United States each year and 51 percent of our country’s coal reserves.
The Alliance and Illinois will now work together to move FutureGen forward at a continued fast pace to develop this much-needed, first-of-a-kind research and development program. With the issue of climate change at the top of Congress’ agenda and on the minds of many policy-makers around the globe, FutureGen and its continued progress toward advancing new technologies such as carbon capture and storage is more important than ever.
In addition to placing Illinois at the center of clean coal energy innovation and furthering the revitalization of the Illinois coal industry, FutureGen will have a significant economic impact on the region and state. A recent study by Southern Illinois University in Carbondale showed that during the four-year construction period, there would be more than $1 billion in economic impact statewide and 1,225 indirect and induced spin-off jobs created as a result of the economic ripple effect generated by FutureGen. Once the facility is operational, the study noted that FutureGen would generate $135 million annually in total statewide economic output, with an $85 million annual increase in Coles County alone.
The FutureGen Alliance is a non-profit organization that represents some of the world’s largest coal companies and electric utilities. The Alliance is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy to design and build the facility. Learn more about FutureGen and the Alliance at www.FutureGenAlliance.org or visit www.FutureGenForIllinois.com.
Moderate La Nina Persisting, Warmer February Expected
The latest sea-surface temperature analysis across the equatorial Pacific Ocean reveals that cooler than normal ocean temperatures have continued over the last month. As a result, the La Nina that developed this past fall is persisting and has actually strengthened somewhat.
Taking a look at other climate years that have had a similar La Nina in place during the winter (specifically 1989, 1996, 2006) reveal that typically the second half of winter tends to be warmer than average.
Other climate indices such as the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) index also favor a milder February across Illinois by hinting at an upper level ridge pattern for at least part of the month. Current thinking is that much of the state will see mean temperatures that average two to three degrees above normal during the month of February. As a result, energy usage and costs with respect to heating should also be lower than normal.
The Illinois map this month illustrates the temperature departure from normal across the state for this past December. As can been seen, the northern half of the state saw the forecasted cooler than normal start to winter mainly because of more snow cover. However, the southern half of the state saw temperatures average a little closer to normal than was originally predicated.
Source: EJS Weather, Newton, Ill., www.ejsweather.com or call 618-783-3040.
Good Samaritan Initiative is for Those Without Utility Service
As part of his Keep Warm Illinois campaign, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced the start of the Good Samaritan Initiative for the 2007-2008 winter season. The initiative provides more affordable reconnection terms to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) recipients who have had their utility services disconnected.
The Good Samaritan Initiative will help disconnected low-income customers by reducing the amount that the utility companies require to restore service. LIHEAP beneficiaries, whose outstanding balances are too high to be covered by a grant alone but less than $3,000, will need to pay only $250 or 20 percent of the remaining balance, whichever is less, to have their service restored. Customers must also set up payment plans with their utilities for the remainder of their balance.
You can contribute to the Good Samaritan Trust Fund. The fund, which was established by law in 2003, allows Illinois residents and businesses to voluntarily contribute money toward the heating bills of low-income families. Contributions will benefit low-income residents of the county from which funds were donated. Donations are tax-deductible.
To contribute to the Good Samaritan Energy Trust Fund, send donations to: Good Samaritan Trust Fund, P.O. Box 19154, Springfield, IL 62794.
Source: Illinois Energy Forum
Department of Defense to Use Biofuels for Jets
The Syntroleum Corporation recently announced that it has signed a contract to provide synthetic jet fuel made from renewable feedstock to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
Syntroleum will provide 500 gallons of ultra-clean renewable synthetic jet fuel produced entirely from fats supplied by Tyson Foods, Inc., using the company’s recently-announced BiofiningTM technology. The fuel will be used for research development and performance testing in military turbine applications as part of the DOD’s Assured Fuels Program. The U.S. Air Force has expressed its desire to source 50 percent of its fuel needs from domestic alternative sources by 2016, and plans to certify its entire fleet of aircraft for alternative fuel use by 2010.
New Tax exemptions for Veterans
As a number of tax deadlines begin rapidly approaching, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich reminded the state’s military heroes and employers who have hired them to file for new tax exemptions. Two new laws went into effect in 2007. One made more Illinois veterans and disabled persons eligible for property tax relief and the other created the Veteran’s Tax Credit - a state income tax credit available to employers for every qualified veteran they hire.
“I want to urge all qualified veterans and the businesses that have hired our brave men and women, to file for these new tax exemptions before the deadline. Our veterans have served this country and have rightfully earned these benefits, while the Veteran’s Tax Credit is a way for the state to say ‘thank you’ to those employers who have chosen to hire our veterans,” said Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.
For more information about the Veteran’s Tax Credit or the new property tax exemptions for Veterans, go to the Department of Revenue’s Web site, www.tax.illinois.gov, and visit the Taxpayer Answer Center or call the Department of Revenue’s toll-free assistance line at 1-800-732-8866.
The World Must Help China and India Handle Energy Growth
Energy developments in China and India are transforming the global energy system as a result of their sheer size, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA’s “World Energy Outlook 2007” warns that global energy consumption could increase well over 50 percent by 2030. Energy use in China and India could double by 2030, providing nearly half the world’s growth in energy consumption.
If that happened, global carbon dioxide emissions from energy use would increase by 57 percent. The world’s oil production would also be increasingly concentrated in the Middle East, and the IEA notes that “it is very uncertain” whether supplies would keep up with demand.
Fortunately, the IEA also sees the possibility for a brighter energy future. Measures to improve energy efficiency could cause global carbon dioxide emissions to level off in the 2020s.
If the world decides to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at around 450 parts per million (a goal often cited by climate scientists), global emissions would have to peak in 2012 and fall sharply below 2005 levels by 2030, according to the IEA. That could be achieved through a combination of aggressive energy efficiency measures, greater use of renewable and nuclear energy sources and widespread deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies, says the report.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Center Will Focus on Training for Coal Industry
Rend Lake College (RLC) could become the first community college in the history of Illinois to install a $1 million facility dedicated to training a workforce for the coal mining industry.
State Representative Kurt Granberg (D-107th) announced in December during the Rend Lake College Foundation Annual Dinner his intentions to secure $1 million in state funding for a new coal mining technology center for the college. While he could not make a formal announcement, he said he is “very optimistic” that funding can be secured for such an endeavor.
Granberg’s announcement is another step in a successful history of supporting RLC and Southern Illinois. Sadly, the Assistant Majority Leader’s 22-year tenure will come to a close after this term. Granberg recently announced that he will step down as representative of the 107th District to pursue other professional opportunities.
Grandberg explained that an international group of companies are currently conducting coal investment feasibility studies in the U.S. Right now, their choice of where to operate is between Illinois and Texas. If the choice is Illinois, it could mean a great opportunity for Southern Illinois.
“If that happens, you are going to see international focus on Southern Illinois,” Granberg said. He added that a coal mining technology center at RLC would be an important part in a successful boom of the Illinois coal industry.
Energy Act Creates New Energy Efficiency Standards
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed into law on Dec. 19, phases out the use of inefficient incandescent lights and imposes improved energy efficiency standards on a wide variety of products.
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the new standards for light bulbs require them to use about 20-30 percent less energy by 2014, while requiring DOE to set standards for light bulbs to cut their energy use at least 35 percent by 2020. The initial targets could be met with compact fluorescent lamps and advanced incandescent lamps that combine halogen capsules with infrared-reflective coatings. The 2020 standards will encourage the use of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and other advanced lighting technologies.
The Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) calls the act “the most significant energy-efficiency legislation in three decades” and notes that the lighting standards alone will cut electric bills by $13 billion per year, eliminating the need for 60 mid-sized power plants.
The energy act also sets new minimum efficiency standards for external power supplies, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, residential boilers, electric motors and walk-in coolers and freezers. It directs DOE to conduct new rulemakings on residential refrigerators and clothes washers. It also allows DOE to establish a regional standard for heating products and two regional standards for cooling products, in addition to the national standard. Such regional standards will allow DOE to account for significant climate differences throughout the United States.
© 2008 Illinois Country Living Magazine.