Downstate lawmakers work to protect downstate coal jobs

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers gathered at the Capitol on May 10 to voice their support for an innovative plan aimed at reviving Illinois’ coal industry.

As the major power companies are presenting their plans for the state’s future, the proposal aims to keep coal a part of the state’s broad energy portfolio.

The proposed Illinois Energy and Environmental Security Act requires Illinois utilities to have purchasing agreements with clean-coal burning facilities, with a goal of those agreements representing at least 40 percent of their retail customer load starting in 2020. It also authorizes the Illinois Commerce Commission to devise a way to pay for “scrubbers” that allow Illinois coal-fired power plants to burn Illinois coal cleanly. In addition, the act allows the State of Illinois to purchase and sell Illinois coal to generating facilities if it chooses.

The lawmakers pointed out that Illinois coal burns hotter, and can be used to create more energy and decrease CO2 emissions.

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