FutureGen board selects new leadership
Dec 18, 2006
By Tim Mitchell
TUSCOLA One of the leaders of Tuscola's efforts to land FutureGen says the selection of a new leaders to FutureGen's board of directors improves Illinois' chances of becoming the host for the clean-coal gasification plant.
The FutureGen Alliance, which wants to build the world's cleanest power plant with near-zero emissions to produce enough electricity to power 150,000 homes, announced Thursday that its board of directors has elected new officers.
FutureGen is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy and a nonprofit consortium of private companies that use or produce coal. Tuscola and Mattoon are competing against Odessa, Texas, and Jewett, Texas, to get a $1 billion facility.
The new officers include: Greg A. Walker, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Foundation Coal, as the new chairman of the board.
Walker has experience overseeing legal, land, environmental and government affairs related to coal and has more than 25 years of experience with legal and regulatory mining and energy issues.
He replaces outgoing chairman of the board Charles H. Goodman.
Chris M. Hobson, senior vice president for the Southern Company (NYSE:SO) , as the new vice-chairman of the board. Hobson has expertise in environmental issues and the development of electricity technology. He helped to develop a coal gasification facility in Wilsonville, Ala.
Steve Winberg, general manager for CONSOL Energy (NYSE:CNX) Research & Development, as the new secretary and treasurer.
Winberg has experience in power generation equipment design and the development of innovative fuels. He represented the natural gas industry in providing advice to the Environmental Protection Agency on acid rain issues.
Winberg replaces outgoing secretary and treasurer Frank Burke.
Senior Vice President, Project Development: Jerry Oliver, formerly of the Bechtel Corporation, as the new senior vice president for product development.
Oliver had been serving as a consultant for FutureGen.
"The board of directors has appointed the right leadership team to guide the Alliance through the critical activities and decisions in the coming year as we continue our very aggressive schedule to develop the cleanest coal-fueled plant ever to be built." said Michael J. Mudd, chief executive officer for the FutureGen Alliance.
Brian Moody, executive director for Tuscola Economic Development, Inc., said Friday that he believes the new FutureGen board leadership bodes well for the possible selection of an Illinois site because all four of them have a background in science.
"That's good for us," said Moody on Friday. "They are intelligent people who are focused on science and making sure that decisions are based on science."
The U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of reviewing the four sites, and a team of FutureGen consulting engineers were in Mattoon on Thursday and in Tuscola on Friday to study the two sites, their infrastructure plans and the lay of the land. The FutureGen alliance plans to select a final site by August 2007.
"We feel that geology of the two sites in Illinois make them attractive sites for FutureGen, so we feel that science will guide the board to a decision favoring Illinois," Moody said. "We look forward to working with them in the days ahead."
Most power plants release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as carbon fuels are burned, but FutureGen will use new technology to convert coal into a gas to produce electricity.
Instead of emitting carbon dioxide into the air, the gas will be piped a mile underground to an ancient saltwater sea contained by sandstone. The gas will dissolve in the water over 100 years.