New Study Finds Cleaner Coal Projects Can Create Thousands of New Jobs and Economic Opportunity in Illinois

Job growth from cleaner coal projects range from 13,000 to 20,000 per year, plus millions of dollars in direct and indirect economic effects on the Illinois economy

This is good News for all of us here in Naperville and for the rest of Illinois as well.

A clean coal portfolio in Illinois will create thousands of new jobs in the coming years and send a positive ripple effect throughout the Illinois economy, according to a new study released by the Illinois Chamber Foundation today.

Commissioned by the Illinois Chamber Foundation and conducted by the Regional Economics Application Laboratory (REAL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, the analysis revealed how certain new coal technologies could affect Illinois’ economy if and when they are built. The report provides some valuable perspectives for civic, environmental, government and energy leaders to determine the best path forward regarding this important local energy resource.

“There is no longer any doubt about whether we should continue efforts to look at cleaner coal projects as a future energy source in Illinois,” said Tom Wolf, executive director of the Energy Council at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. “We have always said that energy development equates to economic development and this study shows how coal can certainly fit into our future energy and economic portfolios – creating thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars in economic activity.”

Two key findings of the study include:

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. As it is impossible to predict which cleaner coal technologies will eventually be built, the study tested three conservative, forward-looking scenarios and the common theme is jobs, including:

– An increase in jobs during construction – ranging from an average of
6,500 to 12,300 per year for 30 years, depending on the scenario
– An increase in jobs during operations – ranging from 6,200 to 8,200
per year for 30 years, depending on the scenario

Using a local source of energy has a double benefit for the state. If more energy supplies are produced from local sources, then the state’s economy will achieve a double dividend. First, more incomes and expenditures will circulate within the state; secondly, the state will end up using resources in plentiful local supply, thereby creating more local jobs, income, production and state revenue.

The study also confirmed the large supply of coal in Illinois. Geological surveys show that the energy stored in the known deposits of coal in Illinois is greater than the energy stored in the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. This is truly a local energy source waiting to be tapped.

“The forward-looking scenarios all resulted in significant economic benefits in terms of job creation and income and dollars invested in the local communities,” said Geoffrey Hewings, director at REAL. “The ripple effect from the construction is in and of itself special, but the ongoing, multi-decade economic effects from the job growth was revealing in scope.”

The potential economic impacts associated with the increased use of Illinois coal suggest that these options should be explored to their fullest extent. As with all kinds of new energy technologies, commercial viability and environmental issues must be addressed before determining total viability. However, proponents of cleaner coal projects believe the magnitude of Illinois’ coal reserves, the jobs and economic benefits associated with cleaner coal development that would reverberate across the state and the promise of new technologies to tap into this local energy source all suggest that careful consideration should be given to the feasibility of using this source of energy to meet state and regional demand.

The report briefly introduces a variety of alternative uses of coal and estimates their potential impacts on the state’s economy, separating out the construction effects from the operations over a period of time.

Coal projects reviewed include:

– Coal to Liquids (CTL) plant
– Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology (i.e.
– Hybrid Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle technology
– Coal to Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) project
– Coal to Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) project with sequestration
– Ultra super critical pulverized coal power plant using best-available
control technology (i.e. next generation Prairie State)

Each of these projects, if built, would provide needed energy supply (electricity, synthetic natural gas, transportation fuels) and significant jobs – both in construction and operations. In addition, the indirect benefits of the project construction, increased mining operations along with the operations of the facilities create a significant economic ripple effect throughout the local community.

“Given the fact that we have the coal resource here in Illinois, it would be shameful if we didn’t do everything possible to see if clean coal projects work,” said Wolf.

About the Illinois Foundation

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation raises and expends funds for the purposes of financing and sponsoring, publishing, promoting and distributing research on issues important to businesses in Illinois. It also provides educational forums that facilitate the discussion of policy matters that impact Illinois businesses.

About the Illinois Chamber of Commerce

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce promotes the interests of Illinois business by working to improve the state’s business climate. The Illinois Chamber aggressively advocates legislation and public policies that support economic growth, and is a source of timely and reliable information on matters important to its members, Illinois employers and the general public. The Illinois Chamber also provides effective programs and services to its 3,500+ members to meet their business needs, including immediate answers to tax and human resources concerns and access to training and consulting services.

About the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory

The Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois was formed in 1989 with a goal to enhance public policy decision-making through the provision of high-quality analytical modeling initially focused on the Midwest. Projects have ranged from impacts analysis (the Bank of America Marathon, Higher Education in the Loop) to forecasts of the Chicago economy through 2040 (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning). Over the two decades of its existence, REAL has helped train three dozen doctoral students, many of whom now work in state and federal agencies, private sector organizations and academic institutions in the United States and over 20 countries worldwide.

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