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Ameren in Discussions to Sell Illinois Power Plant to FutureGen

Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Ameren Corp. is in talks to sell parts of its Meredosia power plant to a group of coal-mining companies and utilities seeking to build a $1.65 billion project to capture and store carbon-dioxide emissions.

The FutureGen Industrial Alliance Inc. is in talks to buy “portions” of the Illinois power plant, which will be altered to allow for the capture of carbon emissions, according to a statement from the group today. Ameren, based in St. Louis, will not continue with the project after this year, according to the statement.

The alliance is asking to take over an agreement Ameren signed with the U.S. Energy Department for the project, which received $1 billion in stimulus funds from the Obama administration. Members of the group include Anglo American Plc, Rio Tinto Plc, Peabody Energy Corp. and two utility subsidiaries of PPL Corp., according to the alliance website.

Ameren won a grant from the U.S. Energy Department last year to convert an oil-fired boiler at its Meredosia power plant, located 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Chicago, at which 90 percent of the carbon-dioxide emissions would be captured and stored. Federal officials also awarded funds to build a 30-mile pipeline, storage facility and a visitor center.

The project is attempting to keep alive an initiative dating back to 2003 to capture and store carbon-dioxide emissions from a coal-fired power plant. FutureGen 2.0, the world’s first commercial-scale plant using oxygen-combustion technology, is intended to show that coal can continue to supply power in the U.S. without boosting emissions that cause global warming.

The FutureGen 2.0 project was created to replace a stalled Bush administration plan to build a coal-fired power plant with carbon capture and storage capabilities in Mattoon, Illinois. Southern Co. and American Electric Power Co., two of the largest U.S. utility owners, backed out of the effort in 2009 and decided to work on their own projects.

To contact the reporters on this story: Julie Johnsson in Chicago at jjohnsson@bloomberg.net; Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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