Jewett Named FutureGen Finalist

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The state of Texas has earned two bids in a billion dollar final four. Tuesday, the FutureGen Alliance announced the Brazos Valley's site is among the finalists to host the revolutionary coal-fueled power plant.

The excitement was unmistakable from the local officials pushing for Jewett to be home to the FutureGen plant. But with that excitement is a great deal of confidence. There is no doubt in their minds that the final choice will be the Brazos Valley.

"It is definitely up there in the top ten list of big events," said Tom Wilkinson with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments. "A&M has brought a lot of great opportunity to the region and is still our big economic engine. This will just diversify us a little bit."

The plant comes in at one billion dollars, and would mean a big economic boost for Leon, Limestone and Freestone Counties. The very nature of the revolutionary facility -- the way it creates hydrogen, stores carbon dioxide and enhances oil -- will bring national and international scientists. Some from the Far East have already expressed interest.

The final four is a split between two states. Odessa is also representing Texas in the running for the plant.

A pair of sites from the Land of Lincoln have logged final spots. Mattoon and Tuscola are less than 50 miles apart. Local officials say because of the specifications of the FutureGen site, those two Illinois bids are essentially one.

From here, the four groups will have to go through an environmental evaluation and create a more detailed site plan.

According to FutureGen, the top five sites were within five percent of each other using their detail scoring system, but the Jewett site appears to have scored highest.

But Texas is offering added incentives, like paying for storage of carbon dioxide underground. And with the Jewett site being very close to an existing coal plant, local officials think they're the best choice.

"Every lignite power plant is located at the lignite mine," Wilkinson said. "You don't transport lignite, so if you're going to study lignite, you need to be where it is, and we're the only ones offering a lignite mine."

After another year of research by the alliance, they'll choose a home in the second half of 2007.