June 10, 2009

Symposium to focus on new energy opportunities

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Energy opportunities in Southern Illinois and the FutureGen project are the topics of discussion for the latest in a series of symposiums on energy sponsored by Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Connect SI.

The event, set for Tuesday, June 23, is titled “New National Initiatives: A Fresh Start for Energy Opportunities in Southern Illinois.” It is aimed at local government, economic and education leaders, and anyone with an interest in the energy sector and its future.

W. Hoxie Smith, director of the Midland (Texas) College of Petroleum Professional Development Center, is the featured speaker for the event. Smith played a key role in Texas’ effort to land the FutureGen coal gasification plant project. The Illinois city of Mattoon ultimately won the competition for the project, which remains under review.

John S. Mead, director of the Coal Extraction and Utilization Research Center at SIUC, said Smith is following the FutureGen story closely, along with other new developments in federal energy projects and initiatives.

“This is going to be a very informative and entertaining forum,” said Mead, who has helped organize the series of energy symposiums during the last 18 months. “Illinois and Texas have had a friendly, but intense rivalry over FutureGen. We will hear first-hand from Texas and Illinois experts about how that project was developed and how the new national emphasis on energy is going to affect Southern Illinois.”

Following Smith’s talk, a panel of experts will discuss issues surrounding the national debate on energy policy. The panel includes John Thompson, of the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based environmental advocacy group. David Baker and Michael Murphy, both with the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, also are on the panel.

The energy forums, sponsored by SIUC and others, began in September 2007. Since then, participants have covered many topics including, coal gasification, wind power, the future of coal mining and mine safety, biofuels and others.

Held at John A. Logan College in Carterville, the forum begins at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments and the discussions running from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but organizers encourage those interested in attending to pre-register, as seating is limited to 150.

To pre-register, contact Man-Tra-Con Corp. at 618/998-0970, ext. 215; by FAX at 618/998-1291, attention: Tammy Kirk; or by email at TammyKirk@mantracon.org. You can also write to Man-Tra-Con Corp at 3000 W. DeYoung St., Suite 800-B, Marion, IL 62959.