CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) -Coal is apart of Southern Illinois culture.
According to the Illinois State Geological Survey, the state has been mining since 1810 across 76 counties.
“Its transported all over the U.S. and then in some cases all over the world,” said Dr. Ken Anderson, Director of the Advance Coal and Energy Resource Center at SIU
Anderson said the immediate future of coal production and utilization will likely continue to decline.
According to the Energy Department, coal production in Illinois is down nearly 35 percent during the past year.
That decline is impacting the local economy, though coal remains a necessity for some power plants across the country.
“It will decline over the next few years as all the coal fired power plants are retired and not replaced,” said Anderson.
He said some modern power plans will still continue to use coal for a while, but alternative energy sources, such as wind, are edging out coal mining.
“The combination of cheap natural gas, cheap solar and cheap wind, has made coal much less attractive as an energy resource than it used to be,” said Anderson
Anderson said this is not the end, it’s the beginning of new things.
“History is an ongoing thing. We will change with it, we will adapt, we will succeed, and we will prosper with or without coal,” said Anderson.
The Prairie State Generating Station in southern Illinois is among the few newly constructed coal fire plants.
Most other large coal plants still operating in the U.S. are 40 years old.