SPRINGFIELD - A billion-dollar coal power plant in east central Illinois could mean new jobs created through-out the state, according to a new study.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration Tuesday touted a Southern Illinois University report that the experi-mental FutureGen project would stimulate the economy outside Mattoon and Tuscola.
Those two towns are Illinois' two finalists for the prototype power plant, and the report's released corresponded with meetings there Tuesday. The towns are competing with two in Texas for FutureGen, which would burn coal and pump pollutants underground instead of into the air.
The study by SIU professor Ira Altman suggests the plant could create about 350 permanent energy industry jobs around Illinois in addition to the 150 at the plant.
That's a small slice of the state's economy. But Altman says that if FutureGen burns coal from Illinois, even more jobs could be created.
"It all depends, of course, on where the coal would come from," Altman said.
Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity spokesman Andrew Ross said FutureGen's developers have agreed to test Illinois' coal for potential use in the project.
The statewide jobs picture would also depend on unknown factors about the plant's technology. Altman said that because FutureGen is a new idea, it's hard to tell exactly what impact it will have.
A final decision about where the plant will be located is expected in September.