Alliance officials on way to Mattoon

MATTOON – After years of hearing about Mattoon, some FutureGen officials will experience the city for themselves next week.

About 30 members of FutureGen's technical team will be on hand Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Mattoon Public Works Director David Wortman said.

Their visit will serve two purposes, he said.

"It's both a face-to-face meeting to get a chance to know each other and moving into the implementation phase of the project," Wortman said.

The FutureGen officials will meet both the city and state representatives who put Mattoon's site proposal together, and be introduced to the city that will become their home during the FutureGen project.

Wortman plans to lead a tour of Mattoon before getting down to business on the project's specifics Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I'm going to just be showing them around town," Wortman said, "where hotels and restaurants (and) our major streets are." He said he hopes to make them familiar with Mattoon and the area, "because they're going to be spending a lot of time here."

Angela Griffin, president of Coles Together, said next week's visit is a part of the FutureGen Alliance's commitment to keep the project moving.

The Department of Energy, which has pledged to partner the clean coal-burning power plant, still hasn't released its final decision on the site. More information on that decision should come later this month, said department spokeswoman Julie Ruggiero.

But regardless of the DOE's position on the project, Jerry Oliver, who is the FutureGen Alliance senior vice president of project development, said the alliance intends on building the plant in Mattoon and the meeting will allow these technical officials to get acquainted with the site.

"I don't think a technical person can make a design without seeing the site," Oliver said. "It's an invaluable tool to really put the pieces together."

Officials will use the meetings to address the technical aspects of the project, Griffin said, such as utilities and water.

"Since many of them haven't seen it except on maps, maybe, or on paper, it's just going to give them an opportunity to see where the project is going to be placed," Griffin said. It's an "opportunity to show them the community that's going to become the home for FutureGen and for us to meet them in a way that you'd meet a new neighbor."

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