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Tenaska drops Taylorville coal-plant project

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm •  Published: June 22, 2013

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A Nebraska company dropped plans to build a $3.5 billion coal-based power plant in central Illinois, saying it instead will focus on developing natural gas-fueled and renewable facilities elsewhere.

Omaha, Neb.-based Tenaska said a coal-gasification plant in the Christian County town of Taylorville was no longer viable, partly because lawmakers did not agree to a 30-year contract to purchase electricity from the plant, with the costs passed on to customers of utilities and competitive power suppliers.

It also said increasing supplies and lower costs of natural gas and renewable energy also affected its decision.

The plant would have converted Illinois coal to synthetic gas, which would have been used to create electricity. Emissions would have been captured and stored underground.

"We take a conservative approach to development, working to ensure projects will have a long-term market for their power before we begin construction," said Dave Fiorelli, Tenaska's president of development said in a written statement issued Friday.

He added that the "current market is in need of natural gas-fueled and renewable electric generating facilities."

The company had been pursuing the project for more than five years, but the plan faced strong opposition from Exelon Corp., Illinois' largest electricity provider, and manufacturers that said large businesses would have to pay more for power.

It was supported by unions, which said it would have created 2,500 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs.