Tire-burning plant requests green designation

May 4, 2010 (CHICAGO)

If it were so designated, then it can qualify for government help and tax credits. Environmental groups, however, say that designation would be a bad move.

The Geneva Energy Incinerator in Ford Heights burns tires to create electricity. While the facility currently doesn't qualify for state grants or other incentives under Illinois green renewable laws, a bill that passed the Illinois House but failed to pass the Senate would have changed that.

"Because this is taking something that already exists, and that is the combustion of tires, we decided to create a new standard for reusable energy," said State Representative Will Davis (D-South suburbs).

Opponents of the bill felt that the state should not be supporting this type of industry.

"It's what we're doing to move to a green economy and create a lot of new jobs, so they'll be taking a part of that money and using it for burning tires," said State Representative Karen May (D-North suburbs).

Under state law, power companies must get 10 percent of their electricity from green sources by 2015, and the bill would have made the incinerator a significant player in renewable energy.

While part of the debate was about the tire-burning process being considered a green energy source, the other part of the debate was about saving and creating jobs.

Right now, the facility has 17 employees. That number would likely have grown if the bill had become law.

Foes of the bill said the job creation would be minimal at best.

According to published reports before the bill's death, executives with Geneva Energy might cease operations if it did not pass.

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