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Tenaska Energy has proposed a 716-megawatt (gross), 602-MW (net) facility using Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The plant would be located a mile northeast of Taylorville in central Illinois and will generate enough electricity to power about 600,000 area homes. The plant will be named the “Taylorville Energy Center” (TEC).

The cost-based approach under which TEC proposes to sell its power was developed jointly with the Citizens Utility Board, an Illinois utility consumer advocate. It’s specifically designed to provide stable rates and protect consumers. Consumer protection measures in the bill include a cap on the increase from the plant on household electric rates at 2 percent. In addition to the consumer rate cap, Tenaska has agreed to absorb two-thirds of any capital cost overruns that the Illinois Commerce Commission deems to be prudent and 100 percent of overruns it deems imprudent, including those related to carbon storage.

The bill also includes rate reviews by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Additionally, the Illinois General Assembly must give final approval of the Taylorville Energy Center after preparation of a detailed facility cost report. That report was completed, and the Senate passed a bill in November 2010 that would allow construction to proceed. A Senate vote on the legislation is expected in March or April 2012.

There is broad support for TEC in Illinois, including from the AFL-CIO of Illinois, the Citizens Utility Board, the Clean Air Task Force, the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, among others.

ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF THE TEC

According to Tenaska:

  • Construction will create 16,000 direct and indirect jobs according to a University of Illinois study and hundreds of permanent plant and mining jobs once completed.
  • Residential rates are capped, by law, at 2.015 percent for 30 years, or about $1.67 per month, according to the Illinois Commerce Commission.
  • Net reductions in CO2 emissions in the state by approximately 1.9 million tons/year with the addition of the Taylorville Energy Center to Illinois’ generating fleet. This is accomplished partially by replacing higher polluting plants on the electric grid with more efficient TEC power.
  • TEC will capture and store more than 50 percent of its CO2 emissions.
  • Conventional pollutants, including mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, will be dramatically reduced to a fraction of conventional coal plant levels.
  • TEC will use “dry cooling,” reducing water usage by 70 percent compared with conventional plants and produce no liquid discharge.

PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR TEC

Sixty-one percent of Illinois voters favor the use of Illinois coal to produce electricity in the state. That support jumps to 86 percent of voters who say they would be more likely to support the use of Illinois coal to generate electricity if the process could be made significantly cleaner.

Sixty-two percent of Illinois voters say it is reasonable for consumers to pay an extra $2 or less per month on their utility bill for cleaner power produced from coal.

Support for TEC is bolstered by the plant’s broad coalition of supporters. Clear majorities say they are more likely to support TEC because the plant has the support of environmental groups, such as the Clean Air Task Force, which is a national environmental group (65 %) and consumer advocates, such as the Citizens Utility Board (61%).

The current legislation, SB 678, responds to the imminent closure of coal plants by reducing demand for electricity through energy-efficiency measures and increasing supply through the Taylorville project, distributed generation and additional support for renewables.

The legislation also requires TEC’s developer to absorb at least two-thirds of capital and carbon sequestration cost overruns, expand rate protections to all residential customers and create a partial rate cap for large users. The changes have resulted in significant additional supporters, including the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

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