Illinois EPA Issues Permit for New 1.1-GW Gas-Fired Facility

Environmental officials in Illinois have signed off on construction of a 1,100-MW natural gas-fired power plant sited near Springfield, the state capital.

EmberClear, an energy company with offices in Houston, Texas, and Moosic, Pennsylvania, is behind the $1 billion project, which will be located near Pawnee in Sangamon County. The Lincoln Land Energy Center will be built on 160 acres and is expected to enter commercial operation in 2025.

EmberClear’s partners in the project include Siemens Energy, Siemens Financial Services, and BDC (Bechtel) Power Holdings, LLC.  The plant will feature Siemens’ turbine technology, initially enabling the use of a fuel blend using 30% hydrogen, eventually rising to 100% hydrogen during the lifetime of the facility, according to EmberClear. The company said the technology means the plant “can transition from a baseload unit using natural gas to a storage facility using hydrogen created from renewables in the future. There will be no stranded assets.”

The Lincoln Land Energy Center is designed as a 1,100-MW natural gas-fired facility. It will be built near Pawnee, Illinois. Source: EmberClear

Access to Gas Pipelines

John Kinnamon, vice president Midwest for EmberClear, has said the project will have “unparalleled access to the most robust gas transmission systems in MISO Zone 4,” which will make the power plant “among the most competitive natural gas combined cycle projects yet conceived.” MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator) Zone 4 includes most of Illinois.

The plant will source natural gas from the nearby Panhandle Eastern and Rockies Express pipelines. Kinnamon has said that “The $1 billion investment [in the plant] will reinvigorate the trade labor and tax base for many years to come.”

The project will send power to the grid via the Illinois Rivers Project, a 375-mile, 345-kV transmission line built by Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois. The line was completed in late 2020.

EPA Grants Construction Permit

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on July 29 granted a construction permit for the power plant. According to a study from the Springfield Sangamon County Growth Alliance, the plant is expected to create from 400 to 700 jobs during construction, and 35 permanent jobs after coming online. The group said it estimates the plant will have a $1.5 billion economic impact for the area during construction.

EmberClear said the power plant will buy and source water and backup water supplies from the City of Springfield and the Otter Lake Water Commission, via the Village of Pawnee. The discharge from the plant will be sent to a nearby sewage treatment facility owned and operated by Pawnee.

Both the city of Springfield and Sangamon County have approved tax breaks for the construction costs of the power plant.

Other EmberClear projects include the 485-MW Birdsboro Power gas-fired power plant, located about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Birdsboro plant began operating in 2019.

EmberClear also is developing a 1,085-MW gas-fired facility in Cadiz, Ohio, in Harrison County, about 50 miles west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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