Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Physical Plant is located along U.S. Highway 51. The plant includes a "circulating fluidized bed boiler," the University's main source of heating and cooling energy. The plant is over 10 years old and burns high-sulfur Illinois coal. The plant also can burn different substances, such as wood or rubber tires, along with the coal.[1]

SIUC's power plant produces about 14 percent of the annual electricity supply for the central campus and consumes roughly 50,000 tons of local coal each year, according to the university's plant and service operations. The plant is equipped with scrubbers that help the facility burn the high-sulfur coal found in the region.[2]

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Project Details for proposed 200 MW plant

Sponsor: Southern Illinois University
Location: Carbondale, IL
Capacity: 200 MW
Type: Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC)
Projected in service:
Status: On hold

Proposed plant

In March 2007, Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard asked Governor Rod Blagojevich to approve a $200 million proposal for a 200 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant. The plant would employ integrated gasification combined cycle technology. In April 2008, Poshard announced that the plant had been put on hold for financial reasons.[3]

Student Opposition

In May, 2007, Mattie Reitman wrote:

Students at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale are concerned. Their school has the prize of being the only campus in the U.S. to have an active proposal for a coal-fired power plant. Led in part by a member of the Student Environmental Action Coalition’s National Council, Kandace Vallejo, the SIUC’s Student Environmental Center is standing up to the administration’s interest in investing $250 million student dollars in coal.Kandace says (from the heart of Illinois coal country), “I feel like investing the money in more coal technology is almost pointless, because within the next 100 years this entire country is going to have to transfer over to 100 percent clean and sustainable energy. We’re just going to run out of coal and oil.” And they won’t be alone - SEAC and the Energy Justice Network will be supporting the resistance. Hopefully this proposal, along with 200+ others similar to it across the country, will fall to the favor of conservation, efficiency, renewables, and simple common sense.[4]

In March, 2008, Reitman reported victory:

"Following an ongoing story, we’ve got another notch in our belts and another victory against coal. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, the only campus in the country with an active proposal for a coal-fired power plant, has canceled its plans. University President Glenn Poshard said a study suggests the plant would be too expensive. The Student Environmental Center at SIU played a role in this victory. A monthly column by an SEC member recently highlighted the problems with “clean coal”, while the SEC’s Eco-Dawgs green fee campaign has been making great advances towards sustainability on campus.[5]

"Clean Coal" Research

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has a coal research center and a Clean Coal Review Board to investigate clean coal technologies.[6]

Student protests against clean coal

On May 9, 2011, SIUC Environmental Coalition staged a "die-in" with a message to Southern Illinois University Carbondale: End its pursuit of "clean coal". In doing so, organizers hope to raise awareness about carbon dioxide emitted from the campus' coal-burning power plant and about clean energy alternatives, like wind, solar and biofuel. Organizer Jason Mischke said it seems pointless to put so much time and energy into making coal burn cleaner when there are other resources to study. "Ultimately, what we are trying to bring up is there are other alternatives we could be working on, rather than trying to make dirty energy clean," Mischke said.

John Mead is director of the Coal Research Center on campus and said the campus power plant is a good testing ground for technology that can be installed in many older power plants to help them burn coal "more cleanly" and reduce emissions, like carbon capture and storage. SIUC was recently recognized in "The Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges" for 2011. The university was included in the publication because of several green initiatives the campus had put into action, including a free bike rental program, a green roof project, and the creation of compost from dining hall waste.[7]



  1. Tim Crosby, "Anheuser-Busch chief tours SIUC's steam plant" Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, March 1, 2006
  2. Caleb Hale, "Killer coal?" The Southern, May 10, 2011.
  3. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed March 2010. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  4. "IL Students Fight Proposed Coal Plant," It's Getting Hot in Here, May 2, 2007
  5. Mattie Reitman, "Victory: Campus Coal Plant on Hold," It's Getting Hot in Here, 3/31/08
  6. "Clean coal review board" Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Website, accessed December 2009
  7. Caleb Hale, "Killer coal?" The Southern, May 10, 2011.

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