Double deadlines weigh on FutureGen

TWO important deadlines are looming for the proposed FutureGen 2.0 near-zero emissions coal-fueled power facility planned in Morgan County, Illinois.
Double deadlines weigh on FutureGen Double deadlines weigh on FutureGen Double deadlines weigh on FutureGen Double deadlines weigh on FutureGen Double deadlines weigh on FutureGen

An artist's impression of the Futuregen Power Plant, courtesy the Futuregen Alliance.

Donna Schmidt

One of them involves a milestone decision from the US Department of Energy on the project’s future.

FutureGen Alliance chief executive officer Ken Humphreys told the State Journal-Register that the two deadlines tied heavily into one another.

It begins on December 27, when the Illinois Commerce Commission decides whether large utilities such as Ameren and Commonwealth Edison will be required to buy electricity from the project’s power plant in nearby Meredosia.

The ICC has a proposed state power-procurement agreement on the table for 2013-2018 that includes the planned facility.

The outcome will influence a DOE decision due by the end of the year on whether to move ahead with FutureGen’s design and engineering phase. The federal agency has $US1 billion in funding tied into the $1.65 billion project.

"It's what assures there's a revenue stream around the plant that allows you to line up investors," he told the paper.

“It's pivotal in that respect."

Humphreys said the project in its current form was several months behind schedule, but the alliance was eyeing a production start in 2017 if the plan moved ahead as designed.

He told the Journal-Register that he would not speculate on what would occur if either decision was not positive.

"We'll reassess at that point in time," he said.

Assuming all goes as planned, Humphreys said the key pieces of the project would begin to fall into place quickly. And there is no time to waste, with the DOE setting a September 30, 2015 deadline for FutureGen to use its federal economic stimulus funds.

“The schedule is getting tighter and tighter,” he told the paper.

“If we get favorable outcomes in both cases, then you’ll see some things happen in very rapid succession. We’ll close on a deal related to the Ameren plant [and] you’ll see our pipeline and a specific route submitted to the ICC and our storage permit application will be filed with the US EPA.”

FutureGen was initially intended to build a power plant in Mattoon in eastern Illinois and store CO2 there, however, those plans were not to be.

The revamped project was shelved by the US government and a redesign set for construction in Illinois was unveiled last year.

Morgan County was selected as the preferred site for FutureGen 2.0 in February 2011 following an open and competitive solicitation process.

When in operation, FutureGen is expected to create 125 permanent direct jobs and about 1000 jobs for the plant site conversion.

FutureGen 2.0 is set to be a first-of-its-kind near-zero emissions power plant.

The design plan includes upgrading the Meredosia Energy Center’s unit 4 with oxy-combustion technology to capture about 90% of the plant’s carbon emissions.

Using safe and proven pipeline technology, the CO2 will then be transported and stored underground permanently at a nearby storage site.

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