gasification_schematic

After this election, there are so many things to be concerned about, so many reasons to be utterly horrified… a Muslim database, Trump’s fraud trial to begin November 28th, promise of mass deportations, sharp increase in hate crimes, assaults and threats on the street and in the schools (and online, oh my!).  Trump’s “100 Days” plan was out in October, and has many points, full of words to decode, including a ‘clean coal’ reference, showing he’s clueless, just clueless:

Trump’s Contract with the American voter — the First 100 Days

In the 2nd and 3rd debate, Trump used those two words that have deep meaning to me, “clean coal,” because of Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project here in Minnesota, and because of the NRG proposed IGCC plant in Delaware, both of which were defeated after a long protracted fight.  There is no such thing as ‘clean coal.”

mesabaone

Coal gasification is one thing that my coal-plant designing Mechanical Engineer father and I had some bonding moments over, going over EPRI coal gasification reports from the 80s and the Mesaba application…  And I had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside my father’s boss’s son, who is also an engineer, formerly with NSP/Xcel, who knew what a bad idea coal gasification is.  Oh yeah, we who fought these projects have learned a lot about coal gasification, “carbon capture and storage,” and will not go there again (see Legalectric and CAMP – Citizens Against the Mesaba Project sites for more info).  We know it doesn’t work.  And experience with the few projects that did go forward, what a mess, cost overruns beyond the wildest SWAG estimate, inability to get the plant running…  Trump, don’t even think about it:

IGCC – Pipedreams of Green & Clean

IGCC, coal gasification, is nothing new.  And despite its long history, it’s a history of failure, failure to live up to promises, failure to operate as a workable technology, and failure to produce electricity at a marketable cost, failure to produce electricity at all!  On top of that, it’s often touted as being available with “CO2 capture and storage” which it is not.  That’s a flat out lie.  Check this old Legalectric post:

More on Carbon Capture Pipedream

A key to this promotion is massive subsidies from state and federal sources, and selection of locations desperate for economic jump-start, so desperate that they’ll bite on a project this absurd, places like Minnesota’s Iron Range, or southern Indiana, or Mississippi.  The financing scam was put together at Harvard, and this blueprint has been used for all of these IGCC projects:

Harvard I – 3 Party Covenant

That, coupled with massive payments to “environmental” organizations to promote coal gasification, and they were off to the races.

Joyce Foundation PROMOTES coal gasification

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation & IGCC – WHY???

VP-elect Mike Pence should know all about coal gasification, he’s from Indiana.  Indiana is coal generation central, and has had a couple of IGCC projects planned, construction started, and built.  Indiana’s Wabash Valley plant is a perfect example, a small IGCC plant that was built, and after it was “completed,” took 22 on-site engineers to keep it running, now and then, at a greatly reduced capacity.

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

When they tried to sell the Wabash Valley plant recently, of course no one wanted it:

Wabash Valley coal gasification plant closing!

And another Indiana plant, with huge cost overruns that never started operating:

Rockport coal gasification plant dies – Indianapolis Star

Coal News: $2.8B coal gasification plant in Indiana canceled

And then there’s Edwardsport IGCC plant, also in Indiana, what a disaster:

Edwardsport plant not at promised capacity

Settlement won’t be the last word on controversial Indiana coal plant

Duke Energy Edwardsport Plant Settlement Expanded

The original settlement in September was a response to the plant’s rising operating costs while failing to meet performance expectations.

In the new agreement, Duke Energy agrees not to charge customers for $87.5 million of the operating costs of the Edwardsport plant, $2.5 million more than the original agreement.

And note that problems with Edwardsport tie in to similar problems with the Kemper IGCC plant in Mississippi:

Indiana ‘cease fire’ could provide a model for Mississippi regulators

Yes, in Mississippi, the Kemper IGCC plant is proving to be a problem, and yes, folks, note the Obama promotion of IGCC — after all, Obama is from Illinois, a coal state, and had lots of support from coal lobbyists.  Check this detailed NY Times article:

Piles of Dirty Secrets Behind a Model “Clean Coal’ project: Mississippi project, a centerpiece of President Obama’s climate plan, has been plagued by problems that managers tried to conceal, and by cost overruns and questions of who will pay.

The sense of hope is fading fast, however. The Kemper coal plant is more than two years behind schedule and more than $4 billion over its initial budget, $2.4 billion, and it is still not operational.

The plant and its owner, Southern Company, are the focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and ratepayers, alleging fraud, are suing the company. Members of Congress have described the project as more boondoggle than boon. The mismanagement is particularly egregious, they say, given the urgent need to rein in the largest source of dangerous emissions around the world: coal plants.

Trump, just don’t.

mesabaone

Remember the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project (see Legalectric posts and Citizens Against the Mesaba Project’s “Camp Site”), the boondoggle coal gasification plant that almost was, the project that got every legislative perk possible, got financing and grants based on wishful thinking and that “something else” that we just can’t identify (without which, who would think this was a good idea?  That plant that was to be built, according to the special legislation for this project, on a site WITH INFRASTRUCTURE?  This site… dig the infrastructure!

mesabadoesitevisit2

Anyway, it wasn’t built here.  But a similar plant WAS built in Indiana, the Edwardsport plant owned by Duke Energy.  As with the Mesaba Project it was proposed at a reasonable price, legislators were first told $700 million, and then it went upwards of $2.11 billion.  For Edwardsport, same story, and that price kept going up, up, up, and in Indiana, it was so extreme that costs recoverable from ratepayers were capped by the Indiana Public Utility Commission at $2.9 BILLION.  It was allowed to be built, and it started operating, sort of…  Average output has been 41%, when an 80+% capacity factor was promised.  Repairs?  That’s putting it mildly.  Now they’re going to try to get cost recovery for that.

Problems pile up at Edwardsport 06-14-2015

Now, let’s not all forget all the money given by the Joyce Foundation to support this nonsense.

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Here’s a specific and eloquent comment from Michael Mullet, very involved in opposition to the Edwardsport fiasco:

    You raise what is definitely the “bottom line” question for Edwardsport given the huge subsidy which almost 800,000 Indiana ratepayers have been paying and are continuing to pay to Duke Energy every month for Edwardsport generation.
    Based on what DEI customers had paid to the Company for Edwardsport and the plant’s net generation through March 2014, the cumulative cost since Edwardsport costs (including CWIP charges) began appearing in customer rates in 2009 was approximately 57 cents per kwh and the current cost for only the twelve month period under review in pending Cause No. 43114-IGCC-12&13 was approximately 33 cents per kwh.  See Direct Testimony of Ralph C. Smith, Joint Intervenors Exhibit A, IURC Causes Nos. 43114-IGCC-12&13, filed December 15, 2014, pp. 48-54.
    Complaints by Duke Energy and other Indiana IOUs that the costs of energy efficiency under Energizing Indiana were “excessive'” resulted in the Indiana General Assembly abruptly terminating that program in 2014 even though an impartial third party concluded that its costs were approximately 4 cents per kwh of electricity saved.    Complaints by Duke Energy and other Indiana IOUs that the costs of customer credits for rooftop solar power in the range of 9 to 13 cents per kwh represent an unfair and unaffordable subsidy to approximately 500 net metering customers statewide also resulted in serious legislative consideration of a bill (thankfully not resulting in any enacted legislation to date) to terminate that program as well.
    In this context of sustainable resources being “too costly” at a level of 4 to 13 cents per kwh, it would seem long overdue for Indiana’s regulators (or, alternatively, its legislators and its Governor) either to impose a reasonable “operating cost cap” on Edwardsport charges to customers or, failing that, to shut the plant down as grossly uneconomic and a monumental waste of scarce ratepayer resources in the face of Edwardsport costs for millions of mwh of coal gas generation with no carbon capture let alone sequestration which are multiple orders of magnitude greater than those for end-use efficiency under Energizing Indiana  or rooftop solar under Net Metering.
    This incredible “double standard” to subsidize Indiana’s favorite “crony capitalists” at Duke Energy and Peabody Coal (whose Bear Run mine in southwest Indiana supplies 100% of Ewardsport’s coal) in order to permit them to spew millions of tons of unregulated CO2 annually into the global atmosphere should end ASAP.
                                                                                                        Michael A. Mullet