Sen. Wendell Ford, D-Ky., originally wasn't scheduled to be the keynote speaker Wednesday at the Clean Coal Technology Coalition's annual conference - but once he got there, he knew what to say.

First, the senator said he hopes Congress will move ahead on proposals to allocate more funds for the Energy Department's clean coal program. The Reagan administration has proposed spending $1.8 billion through 1992; legislation written by Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., would authorize $3.5 billion over 10 years.Last year, Congress undercut funding levels sought under both plans, approving $575 million for the program.

Secondly, Sen. Ford said clean air legislation pending in Congress must be structured so that it would not kill incentives for the developers of new coal-burning technologies.

He told the conference, composed of representatives of coal companies, utilities, engineering firms and state governments, It seems almost inevitable that Congress will come to grips with some form of acid rain legislation in this session or possibly the next.

Sen. Ford warned that a promising future for advanced coal-burning methods will be lost if acid rain legislation forces coal users to meet stringent new emissions standards before technologies can be demonstrated.

Taking a jab at the Reagan administration, the senator said, Only a year or two after dropping its opposition to federal support of clean coal research, the Department of Energy is involved in 11 projects qualifying for

funds under the clean coal program. Additionally, a new round of project proposals was called for by DOE in late February.

Sen. Ford was referring to the fact that the administration became a forceful advocate of developing new coal-burning technologies only after making a pledge to the Canadian government to take action to combat acid rain.

Sen. Ford said he supports a DOE adjustment to the clean coal program under which preference would be given to technologies submitted by states that allow utilities to factor project costs into their rate bases.

The Clean Coal Technology Coalition is a national organization of 60 members from coal companies, utilities, trade associations, state governments, engineering and consulting firms and others.

The coalition is chaired by R.E. Disbrow, president of American Electric Power Service Corp.