Jewett Team "Disappointed," Optimistic in FutureGen Loss

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

Tuesday morning was the day local officials had been waiting for.

However, in a matter of minutes the two year vision of bringing the first of its kind clean-burning coal plant facility to Jewett quickly faded when Mattoon, Illinois was named for the site.

"Of course we're disappointed, but I think in the end we still have a very viable environmental document for the site, so it's worth its weight in gold," Michael Parks with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments said. "Something is going to happen there, what we don't know."

The decision came down from the FutureGen Alliance in Washington D.C. just after 9 a.m. Tuesday. With a 50 percent chance of landing the power plant in Texas, the choice of the Illinois site was a double blow for the Lone Star State.

"T's were crossed, I's were dotted. We had I feel the best site by far," Leon County Judge Byron Ryder said. "We had all the infrastructure, the water, we had the coal, we were on a coal mine."

"I don't think we could have done anything different," BVCOG Executive Director Tom Wilkinson said. "We knew going in there that there was going to be one winner and when they got to the four finalists, there would be three losers so today we did not win."

Officials say this isn't the end of the road for the Jewett site, and there are several speculations as to what the future may hold.

"I think there will be more than one site, more than one plant," Jewett Economic Developer Ken Jones said. "I certainly hope that our site will be the second choice and maybe within the next five years we would have a plant also."

"I think Texas will pull its boots on and get to work and try and get something in here," Ryder said. "I believe we'll eventually build something maybe better than that in Illinois."

The FutureGen site would have brought hundreds of jobs to the area. However, officials say between the coal mines, and expansion of the NRG plant, economic growth is still on its way.

"Two years ago who knew Jewett even existed," Parks said. "Now they write about Jewett across the ocean."

Local officials remain optimistic that the best is still yet to come for Leon County.

KBTX.COM NOTE: We had hoped to bring the announcemnt of the FutureGen Alliance's choice live here at KBTX.com. However, the link provided through FutureGen officials that would have led to a live streaming video did not work. We apologize for those who logged on to watch the announcement.


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