The Wabash Valley IGCC (coal gasification) generating plant was built as a demonstration project, and oh what a miserable failure that was.  Such a failure that they’re now shutting down the coal gasification part and will be running only on natural gas.

After it was “finished” it took years of work, with at times 22 engineering contractors, to cobble it together and make it run.  It rarely ran at capacity, and often didn’t run at all.  Operating costs were through the roof.  It also exploded and killed two workers, which made headlines just as our opposition to the Mesaba Project was getting into full swing, yet that explosion was just the tip of the iceberg in the many problems with this project.

Wabash River IGCC plant explodes, two workers killed

More on coal gasification plant explosion

Coal gasification explosion: metal fitting broke, released gas

Wabash River Final Technical Report(it was “routinely” in violation of its water permit for selenium, cyanide and arsenic)

And here’s the good news — IT’S SHUTTING DOWN FOR GOOD!

47 employees will be laid off. Wabash Valley Power Association to cease operations at sgSOLUTIONS



Thanks to Charlotte for finding this.  My Google Alerts disappeared and now I’m the last to know!

For the Excelsior’s Mesaba Project, the carbon capture and storage was a farce, the project plan took it to the PLANT GATE, and a small percentage of it at that.  A scam:

IGCC – Pipedreams of Green and Clean

And McClatchyDC says the POTUS is taking a “step back” from coal gasification.  ‘Bout time for this coal state Pres. to admit the obvious reality that this is NOT “the way forward for coal.”

The White House walks away from clean coal

How can they write a headline like that and not put the quotes around “clean coal.”


The South Heart North Dakota coal gasification is now going to be an ELECTRIC GENERATION plant.  DUH!  The 800 pound gorilla has just started jumping around the room.  This IGCC plant will be up and ready just in time to use CapX 2020 transmission — DUH!  And if you’re surprised, you’re in the wrong business.

Published August 01 2009

A change in plant plans

What was slated to be a coal gasification plant near South Heart will now produce electricity, a company spokesman said Friday.

By: Jennifer McBride and Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press

What was slated to be a coal gasification plant near South Heart will now produce electricity, a company spokesman said Friday.

Members of the Industrial Commission of North Dakota continue to support Great Northern Project Development/Allied Syngas Corp.’s ongoing development of the South Heart project. The commissioners prepared a letter of support to Chairman Charles Kerr of GNPD, after discussing the project at their Friday meeting in Bismarck. Commissioners have supported the project and $10 million has been committed to it, along with legislative and technical support, according to the letter.

“The site is ideally located to take advantage of the existing transmission infrastructure and GNPD’s unique access to extensive, low-cost coal reserves,” according to the letter.

The plant will be located four miles south and two miles west of South Heart and will be a

coal-to-hydrogen electrical generation plant.

Rich Voss, Great Northern vice president, said the company asked the commission for support because it is applying for U.S. Department of Energy funding for its plant. Voss said this plant will be more marketable and is a very clean project carbon-wise. He hopes plant construction will begin in 2011 and said permits for the 2 million ton-per-year coal mine are likely to be filed late this year or early next year.

“They originally were going to be a power plant, then a gasification plant then a coal-drying plant, so the next logical attempt will be electricity,” said Mary Hodell, a member of Neighbors United, a citizen-awareness group based out of South Heart. “I don’t know what is left.”

Voss said Great Northern and GTL Energy, a company seeking to operate a coal beneficiation plant also near South Heart, are independent companies.

“We are not working together,” Voss said. “We will use their technology in our plant when they build it and prove that it works, but we won’t use their equipment.”

The cost to build Great Northern’s plant is estimated at $1 billion.

“The county does have a comprehensive plan that is in place to protect the livelihood of the people and it would be nice if that was followed,” Hodell said.

Are we going to let them get away with this?  I love it when my hunches are right, but I hate it when anyone has the audacity to propose something so utterly stupid as this.  It will be hard for them to get it up and running… except who has a power plant application ready to rock (except that it’s a joke, but it takes some time to prove that to the PUC)?  Drat… and here I thought Tom would be down in Honduras trying to build Mesaba down there…



Every now and then, something still surprises me, and here’s today’s surprise… a eagle-eye cohort (with a snow day by the computer? If so, snow therefore can be a good thing) found these links which make me wonder if our Commissioners at the PUC are paying attention to the record of the Mesaba case, if they’re sleeping through they’re NARUC meetings, or both!  It’s the PUC, it’s NARUC, whatever are they thinking?


NARUC (National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners) has a subcommittee called… are you ready… “Clean Coal and Carbon Sequestration.”


And look who’s there from Minnesota, Commissioners and Staff:

Phyllis Reha
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

David C. Boyd
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

Bob Cupit
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

Here’s NARUC’s Coal Generation Technology Primer, which you have to read to believe…

Coal Generation Technologies

Minnesota’s Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project was THE first in this IGCC wave to be vetted with cost information somewhat available to the public.  So USE IT!  But no…  Despite all these folks from our Public Utilities Commission who know intimately what a disaster coal gasification is, a la Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, and who are on this Coal Gasification Committee, this NARUC organization that they belong to is putting out information as a “resource” that is way off base.  It’s bad enough that they’re on this committee at all because it lends credibility to a losing and not-feasible technology, but this committee’s cost information so far off that it makes me gasp.

Here’s the NARUC chart from that “Primer” for various coal costs both per kW and kWhr, and see for yourself:


Again, the full report (this chart is on p. 2):

Coal Generation Technologies

So, will someone please explain to me why they are saying that the cost of IGCC is $1,430-1,977/kW, and worse and more specifically, why the Conoco Phillips cost is $1,733/kW when we all know that the Mesaba Project, in 2005 dollars, was estimated at $3,593/kW?  Why aren’t David Boyd, Phyllis Reha and Bob Cupit correcting NARUC staff about this claring error, a cost estimate that’s got to increase 100% to get close in 2005 dollars, and it’s gone higher since?  Aren’t these NARUC people checking the projects that their members are regulating?

And then there’s the kWhr cost, also outrageous.  They’re saying that kWhr cost of IGCC is 5.13-8.05 cents/kWhr.  Once more with feeling, here’s the cost chart from Dr. Amit’s testimony:


CLICK HERE for Dr. Amit’s Rebuttal Testimony, p. 24, from whence this chart came.

CLICK HERE for wind/gas combo info from Shulte’s SDEIA report.

…and then there’s this continuing crap about Carbon Capture and Storage, and the NARUC chart has a column for CCS, claiming that IGCC with CO2 capture is $1,890-2,668/kW capital cost, and 10.29-11.04/kWhr.  First problem is that they’re acting  as if it were happening, and this is something even the DOE admits is not here and now and is not going to be available for a long, long time, so how can they presume?  Second, the column is labeld as “with CO2 capture” and doesn’t address storage but there’s no clarification that in industry modeling, they only address capture and transport to the gate, and NOT storage, implicitly acknowledging that storage is not even contemplated.  I’m not going to waste more time on this one, grrrrrrrrrrrr…

And it gets worse — CO2 capture for Supercritical Pulverized Coal, Supercritical, Ultra-Supercritical, Subcritical Circulating Fluid Bed…. oh, PUH-LEEEEZE… to presume CO2 capture for pulverized coal is … how else to say it… NUTS! How do they propose this be done?

It’s irresponsible to promote these delusions.   Coal Generation Technologies was written by NARUC Staff Miles Keogh and Julia Friedman of the Grants & Research Department got $$$ from the U.S. EPA.  PLEASE start digging, even just scratching the surfact, and you’ll see!  Get IGCC cost information from each of those Commissions with IGCC proceedings before it and you’ll see, and I would think  that info is readily available to you.

Chair Boyd, Commissioner Reha, and the legendary Mr. Bob Cupit… will you please straighten out NARUC as to the facts of coal gasification, specifically cost and CO2 CCS?

Yes, the only good coal gasification plant is a dead coal gasification plant. Coal gasification just doesn’t make any sense, and even project proposers are figuring that out!

Here it is in the Chicago Tribune:

Plans dropped for Indiana coal gasification plant

Congrats to John Blair and Valley Watch for exposing the realities of this project.

Coal-gas project shelved

But potential Rockport, Ind., facility still may have life

By Bryan Corbin
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS — The developer of a $2 billion coal-to-gas plant proposed for Spencer County, Ind., has shelved the project — at least for now.

It was canceled after the developer failed to reach an agreement with utility companies for purchasing the substitute natural gas it would have produced.
Vectren Corp., which along with NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Co.), was negotiating to buy the substitute gas, said there is too much uncertainty over possible federal carbon regulations to commit to a 30-year purchase agreement now.

The proposed plant near Rockport, Ind., would have converted local coal into substitute natural gas and sold the “pipeline quality” gas to utility companies.

If built, the project could have brought 125 full-time jobs to Spencer County, not counting mining jobs to supply the coal and temporary construction jobs to build it, officials have said.

In light of the possibility of those jobs, Rockport Mayor Nedra Groves said she was disappointed by the news.

“It would have been beneficial work for the people here, and we need industry and infrastructure,” Groves said.

But the mayor hasn’t abandoned hope. The notice she received held out the possibility the project could be resumed once the economy improves.

Negotiations between the developer, Indiana Gasification LLC, and the two utilities continued for months, prompting several postponements of hearings before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

On Tuesday, Larry J. Wallace, attorney for the developer, read aloud a statement asking the commission to discontinue consideration of the proposal, at least for now. The developer hopes the project can be revived in a different form and resubmitted later, he said.

“If any viable means can be found for developing the project, Indiana Gasification will certainly pursue them,” the statement said.

Two environmental groups, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana and Valley Watch Inc., had intervened to oppose the developer’s plans. The groups contended the gasification project was a bad deal for ratepayers because it would have locked in 30-year contracts for substitute natural gas, even when the market price for natural gas might drop below that amount.

“We’ve never asked that the commission prevent them from coming back,” said Jerome Polk, attorney for Citizens Action Coalition and Valley Watch. “If (the developer) can come back with a workable proposal that makes sense, even my clients would be willing to sit down and talk if it makes sense and doesn’t hang ratepayers out to dry.”

The end of contract negotiations comes amid uncertainty over what the new Congress or the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama might require of coal plants, in terms of limiting their greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide. The likelihood that coal plants might have to capture the carbon dioxide and inject it underground, at unknown costs, adds to the uncertainty.

“That could have an impact on the price of gas this (plant) could yield, especially if the plant would have to capture carbon. That could impact the capital costs,” said Chase Kelley, Vectren Corp. communications director.

Vectren never was going to be a “significant purchaser” of the substitute gas, she said. But the uncertainty of federal carbon legislation was too much of an obstacle to reaching agreement on a 30-year purchasing contract.

A spokesman for NIPSCO would not be as specific on what derailed negotiations with the developer. “We actively negotiated . . . however, a business decision has been made to discontinue those negotiations,” NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meier said, adding the utility had made no financial commitment to the project.

The developer intended to apply for a federal loan guarantee to help finance the project along with private equity.

Two years ago, Gov. Mitch Daniels attended the Indiana Gasification announcement at Vectren headquarters in Evansville, and on Sept. 3 he specifically cited the plant as an example of clean-coal technology’s potential during an energy summit in Indianapolis.

“We understand that the developer is looking at other ways to continue the project,” the governor’s communications director, Jane Jankowski, said Tuesday.

Two legislative sessions in a row, state Rep. Russ Stilwell got bills passed to clear regulatory obstacles to the coal-to-gas plant.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed. We worked hard to get to this point,” said Stilwell, D-Boonville, whose House district includes the Rockport area. “I would call it a lost opportunity. A project of this opportunity only come around once every few decades.”

But Stilwell noted that the project is not dead unless the developer completely withdraws it. “Whatever we need to do to bring partners in, I’m committed to doing that,” Stilwell, D-Boonville, said.

For environmentalist John Blair, president of Valley Watch Inc., the developer’s announcement comes as no surprise, given the uncertainty about the project’s costs.

“In a word, ‘thrilled,'” Blair said of his reaction to the decision.

Indiana Gasification requested Tuesday that the Utility Regulatory Commission end its proceedings on the proposal, while leaving open the door to resubmitting the project later. Utility commission regulators have not ruled yet.