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SPRINGFIELD, IL-Gov. Rod Blagojevich has added a $17-million grant to the state’s incentive package being assembled to lure FutureGen here. This takes the pot of state incentives close to the $100-million mark, Brian Moody, executive director of Tuscola Economic Development Inc., tells GlobeSt.com.

FutureGen is a $1-billion coal-fueled power plant being designed and co-funded by the US Department of Energy and the FutureGen Alliance, which is a consortium of some of the world’s largest coal companies and electric utilities. The cost will be split $750 million and $250 million between DOE and the Alliance, respectively. The plan calls for a 200-acre site with transportation infrastructure and specific geological characteristics.

Following responses to an RFP by the Alliance in March, 12 sties were deemed suitable, and four of them are in Illinois, twice the number in any other state. Two are in Ohio; two are in Texas; and one each is in Kentucky, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. The four Illinois sites are in Effingham, Marshall, Mattoon and Tuscola. Because Illinois and Indiana share the same coal basin, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels attached his endorsement to the Illinois RFPs.

“We have the coal, the geology and the strong support on the federal, state and local level for bringing the world’s cleanest plant to Illinois,” Blagojevich said in a statement when he announced the grant. The funding comes from a clean coal technology fund that the state assembly included in the 2007 budget. The state is also offering a $15-million tax exemption on materials and equipment purchased through local enterprise zones. In addition the Illinois Finance Authority has set aside $50 million for below-market-rate loans for the project.

Moody says, “at least another $18 million in tax abatements will be offered by the state in combination with whatever municipality obtains the contract. We have a good shot,” he adds. “We think the Illinois package is among the strongest, if not the strongest. Qualifying was a very rigorous process,” he says, referring specifically to Tuscola’s 54-age application. The Tuscola 208-acre site “is a flat, square corn field that meets all the geological and infrastructure requirements and has rail and highway access.”

The FutureGen Alliance and DOE will narrow the field of 12 applications this summer. A final decision is due in fall 2007.

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