$1 billion electrical generating facility planned in Grundy County

Privately funded facility targeted to open in 2021

Competitive Power Ventures announced Thursday its intention to build a nearly $1 billion, privately-funded, state-of-the-art electric generating facility in the Three Rivers area of Grundy County. (Image provided)

GRUNDY COUNTY – Competitive Power Ventures announced Thursday its intention to open a state-of-the-art electric generating facility in the Three Rivers area of unincorporated Grundy County.

The CPV Three Rivers Energy Center is a nearly $1 billion privately funded project designed to meet the future electricity demands of Illinois. The 1,100-megawatt natural gas-powered 2-by-1 combined cycle facility will provide enough electricity to power about 1.1 million homes.

With a lengthy permit process ahead for the facility, Three Rivers project director Michael Bruno said the company has set a goal of beginning construction in 2018 and supplying electricity by 2021. The 21⁄2-year construction process is expected to create 300 to 500 locally sourced union jobs.

“Grundy County has an amazing, ready-made union workforce,” Bruno said. “That’s huge for us. We see unions as an essential partner.”

Once open, the facility is expected to have 25 full-time operational jobs with more than $3 million in payroll and benefits. There will be significant indirect job creation as well, when factoring in landscaping, janitorial work and other jobs, Bruno said.

“This is a huge economic investment to Grundy County,” Grundy Economic Development Council Executive Director Nancy Norton Ammer said.

The 80-acre project site is just south of Exelon’s Dresden Generating Station in Goose Lake Township. The building, which will sit southwest of the mouth of the Kankakee River, will occupy 30 acres. Bruno said an obvious concern for residents would be how the facility will impact operation of Dresden.

“We don’t see it impacting Dresden at all,” Bruno said.

Dresden Site Communications Manager Bob Osgood said Exelon doesn’t mind having CPV as a neighbor.

“We welcome them,” Osgood said. “We don’t see this impacting Exelon.”

Osgood said it’s difficult to say how or if the new plant would affect Exelon at all. He said it would be speculation because a lot can change before 2021.

Grundy County Administrator Doug Pryor and Norton Ammer agreed energy demand projections for the Chicago area indicate a project like this would happen at some point, and they’re glad it’s happening in Grundy County.

“I’m confident this site will co-exist with Exelon’s operations,” Pryor said. “Demand is rising, and energy is a huge market.”

CPV identified Illinois in comprehensive studies as an area that will need cleaner power generation in coming decades.

CPV considered 17 sites in the region, but was attracted to Three Rivers for several reasons. It can tap into the power grid nearby and has access to a pipeline that will fuel two natural gas turbines. The site will be cooled by water from the nearby river system.

“We have great resources for industrial projects,” Pryor said. “This project can happen because of access to the pipeline, the power grid and the river.”

Bruno compared energy advancements since 1970 to that of the automobile industry. He said much like motor vehicles, the energy supply systems of today are far more efficient. Fossil fuel power stations are currently 23 to 25 percent efficient, Bruno said. This site is estimated to be 63 percent efficient and operate at least 30 years.

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle – Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, Rep. John Anthony, R-Joliet, and Rep. Kate Cloonen, D-Kankakee – backed the project in a CPV news release announcing the plans.

“That just shows how great of a project it is,” Norton Ammer said. “It’s the cleanest, most efficient energy technology – and they’re not asking for incentives. It’s privately funded with union jobs. There’s something for everyone in this project.”

Norton Ammer said the tax base enhancement will be huge. Seven taxing bodies would receive funds, including Coal City schools and protection agencies, Goose Lake Township and Grundy County. CPV has met with all taxing bodies, she said.

CPV vows to have informational meetings, outreach and tours to keep the public in the loop throughout the project, Bruno said.

“We want an open dialogue and we want to make it work for the community,” he said.

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