Natural Gas
3:50 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Quinn vetoes synthetic gas plant legislation

Will be updated further. Updated 5:06 p.m. with Associated Press story of Quinn's veto.

Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed legislation that would have forced Illinois natural gas utilities to buy synthetic gas from a proposed plant on Chicago's South Side.

The governor vetoed the bill on Friday. It would have forced Nicor Gas and Ameren Corp. to buy synthetic natural gas from the Leucadia Corp. gasification plant for 30 years to help pay for its construction.

The proposed plant was to be built at the site of a former steel mill on the city's southeast side and use Illinois coal and refinery waste.

Proponents said it would guarantee a market for Illinois coal, create jobs and assure gas supplies. Opponents said it would force utilities to buy natural gas at rates far higher than market price and lead to consumer rate increases.

Earlier story from Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey:

Today is the deadline for Governor Pat Quinn to decide what to do about energy legislation that could affect the price of natural gas around the state.

The legislation deals with a new power plant proposed for the southeast side of Chicago.

The Leucadia Energy project would use technology that converts coal into natural gas - but because natural gas is relatively cheap these days, the plant's backers are having a hard time finding enough customers to justify the cost of construction.

The legislation on Quinn's desk would force Ameren and Nicor to buy the gas at artificially high prices which they say would lead to higher prices for the utilities' suburban Chicago and downstate customers.

Quinn was evasive when asked about the bill this morning.

"Well, this afternoon when I get back to my office, I'll make that decision," Quinn said. "I have all my papers, I read some of them last night, I'll read some more today, during the day, and make a decision."

Quinn can sign or veto the bill, but he can also do nothing, in which case it will become law without his having to take a clear stand on the controversial issue.

Follow Brian Mackey on Twitter: @brianmackey

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