A little birdie has been looking around at Mesaba — but first…

Here’s a report of an obvious problem with IGCC from John Blair, Valley Watch— the pipedream is just that, and the truth that those of us in the midst of coal gasification know too well is finally coming out publicly:

Carbon capture plans failing – IEA


2010-06-14 18:22

London – The world is failing to meet goals to develop carbon capture technology, the energy watchdog to industrialised economies said on Monday as it reported back to G8 countries on their past promises.

At a summit in Japan two years ago, eight of the world’s leading economies backed an International Energy Agency goal to launch 20 large-scale projects to demonstrate carbon capture and storage technology by 2010.

In fact there were only five such projects in operation, all commissioned before the 2008 summit, said the energy adviser to 28 developed countries ahead of next week’s G8 summit in Canada.

None of those existing projects tested the full chain of CCS processes, which involves trapping and then piping and storing underground carbon emissions from coal and gas power plants.

“(The 2010 goal) remains a challenge and will require that governments and industry work in concert,” the IEA said in a report to the Canada G8 summit.

Large projects

One new Australian project had launched, however, and was proceeding to construction to test the full CCS process.

Also on a positive note, the IEA estimated that governments had committed over the past two years to provide over $26bn in funding support for demonstration projects. That compares with an annual funding need of between $5bn and $6.5bn over the next decade.

The IEA argues that CCS is a vital technology to fight climate change because it could allow developing countries to continue to burn supplies of cheap coal and still curb carbon emissions, as they try to grow their economies. Developing countries are now the main global source of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The IEA estimates that about 100 CCS large-scale projects are needed worldwide by 2020, about half in developing countries, to stay within safer limits of climate change.

The report calculated that governments are committed to support between 19 and 43 large projects by 2020, and cited other estimates of about 80 projects at various stages of development.

“Much greater effort will be needed to meet future deployment levels,” it said.

– Reuters

Meanwhile, the little birdie…  We’ve been in this odd and unenviable place, a big horrible coal gasification plant, the Mesaba Project, promoted by Excelsior Energy, a shell corp with nada for assets, which demanded a Power Purchase Agreement then denied by the PUC, and yet inexplicably granted a siting permit for not just “one” but TWO projects totalling over 1,000MW of IGCC!  OH… MY… DOG!  So it’s in limbo land, and we’re wondering how on earth this thing stays on life support as it rots away…

The little birdie had this report:

Excelsior Energy was supposed to have filed a new air permit, and the MPCA was supposed to have reviewed the 2006 air permit application “to assure that the protocol was acceptable to federal land managers.”  Well, that didn’t happen, the “review” by MPCA OR the filing of the new air permit, which was supposed to have been filed last week.

2006 Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project Air Permit

… and the little birdie while looking around found this in their “Frequently Asked Questions” on their site, then scroll down to “View common transmission misconceptions” to p. 2:

Myth: The Mesaba Project will force wind energy off from the transmission grid.

Fact: Mesaba will make upgrades to the transmission grid so that the electricity from the Mesaba Project does not interfere with any existing or planned wind energy.

This myth stems from a misinterpretation of the Mesaba Unit One G477 and G519 System Impact Reports. In preparing the reports, the engineers determined that their base case was unrealistic. Therefore, they used their engineering judgment to make some assumptions so the reports could provide meaningful results. Although those assumptions were made only for the purposes of the report, an internet “blogger” misinterpreted the assumptions to mean that the Mesaba Project would force wind energy off from the transmission grid. In fact, the transmission upgrades associated with the Mesaba Project will ensure that it will not interfere with any “network resources” such as wind farms.

Hmmmmmmmmm…

And this “Myth” section is a lot like their letter to Commerce regarding EIS Scoping Comments:

Excelsior Energy Response to EIS Scoping Comments 11-7-06

Anyway, I’d like to see this blog posting they’re referring to!  Misinterpreted?  Naaaaaaah, it’s all the interpretations of those presenting and reviewing at the MAPP meeting.  Their claims are sorta like the matter of using a site with existing infrastructure:

mesabadoesitevisit2

I wonder what it was that blew their dress up… could it be:

So now it’s deliverable??? SWAG! January 9th, 2007

They caaalll Mesaaaba liiiars… November 25th, 2006

It’s all about this study — READ IT FOR YOURSELF:

Deliverability Study Report G-519 12-15-06

Anyway, their air permit application was submitted, and it is a mess. The rules have changed.  We’re waiting for the next Air Permit application, which will be… when???

MID-Atlantic Power Pathway and all of PJM’s “backbone” projects in the news:

mapptransmissionoverview

She’s worried about a larger line rising in the shadow of her house. If the poles somehow get knocked over, “Where’s that line going to fall? That line’s going to fall in my living room.

That’s Farah Morelli’s question.  She’s a regular person who woke up one day with a monstrously large transmission line planned literally in her back yard.  That’s usually the most effective way to get someone to learn about transmission.  It’s a steep learning curve, and what I’ve found in my work with people in the path of proposed transmission is that once they start looking, they find a disturbing fact:  Utilities propose transmission lines not because they’re “needed” but that they’re wanted, wanted to increase their ability to transmit and SELL cheap power in areas where it’s higher cost, and make a bundle in the process.  It’s not that people don’t have electricity (and high price is the best instigator of conservation), but it’s that people want more and want it cheaper and the utilities which make $$$ from that equation want to make it happen.

HERE’S THE REALITY — The PJM 2010 Load Forecast Report and the Monitoring Analytics “PJM 3Q State of the Market” report show that this market decline isn’t anything new and that it’s not going away anytime soon.  The PJM market peaked in 2006:

pjmchart-2006-demand-peak

Today’s News Journal article is a start at pulling it all together, taking a look at the bigger picture, and that bigger picture is what these transmission lines are all about.  Three lines were proposed together, the Potomac Allegheny Transmission Highline (PATH), the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) and the Susquehanna-Roseland line.  These aren’t just transmission lines, they’re BIG HONKIN’ ELECTRICAL AUTOBAHNS, quad (or now maybe tri?) bundled 500kV lines.  Like WOW.  HUGE!

Here’s today’s article:

Lower energy projections put brakes on power lines

Economy, increased efficiency, carbon consciousness delay projects

By AARON NATHANS • The News Journal • January 24, 2010

It was Delaware’s electric doomsday scenario: Living room lights would go dark unless Delmarva Power could import electricity to a growing population.

Just a few years back, power companies lined up to design hulking new lines to bring power from the Midwest, where 56 percent of electricity is generated by coal-burning plants.

Those plans included building a high-voltage line from Virginia to New Jersey that would have unfurled across the heart of Delaware, helping assure reliable power to the state — and costing customers of Delmarva Power $1.2 billion.

But the world changed — seemingly overnight.

Now regional power grid operator PJM Interconnection is dialing back its projections of future energy use amid a sluggish economy, increases in energy efficiency and the new economics of energy in the age of carbon consciousness.

That has set off a domino reaction of delays in power companies’ plans to build those lines, as PJM reassesses when the lines will be needed, if they’re needed at all.

The reassessment is a chance to wean the country off fossil fuels and build the infrastructure around locally sited renewables without having to erect giant electrified structures in peoples’ backyards, said Carol Overland, an attorney representing opponents of a proposed large power line in New Jersey.

“It’s a very good shift. Culturally, that’s a shift we need to make,” Overland said. “It gives us an opportunity to do it differently.”

Although Delmarva has rights of way through most of its planned Delaware route, it is working to acquire the rights to build on long stretches of land on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, through farms like the one owned by Libby Nagel, of Vienna. Portions of the farm have been in her family for 100 years. She has been fighting the line, saying it will interrupt irrigation and get in the way of low-flying pesticide spray planes. She is concerned Delmarva will invoke eminent domain to force the line onto her property.

“This transmission line is about them bringing cheap coal-fired power in here,” Nagel said, arguing it’s more about profits than reliability. “They say we’re going to benefit. But it is a transmission line. That’s all it is.”

The line, known as the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway, was proposed in 2006 by Delmarva Power’s parent company, Pepco Holdings, Inc. It would run from Virginia to Maryland, across the Chesapeake Bay and end at the Indian River Power Plant in Millsboro.

The line originally was to continue on to the nuclear power plant in Salem, N.J., but that leg was pushed back last summer after PJM ran computer models and found that reliability issues in Delaware have eased due to a downturn in electricity usage.

Last month, those models showed a wider shift, which led PJM to tell two power companies that portions of its Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline would not be needed in 2014 as scheduled. The “PATH” project, sponsored by Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power, would link West Virginia to the Frederick, Md. area.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let Mesaba go…

December 19th, 2009

liar

Jorgensen’s got to get over it — Mesaba is done, ain’t happening, dead, dead dead, yet she’s spinning those tales and hype about Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba IGCC Project.  From the first words in the title, it’s lies, lies and more lies, oh, and misrepresentations and falsehoods and exaggerations and utter bullshit too!  Why does the St. Paul Pioneer Press give her space forthis advertising of the nonsensical kind?

Here’s what Citizens Against the Mesaba Projet’s Charlotte Neigh had to say about it:

Julie Jorgensen is using the opportune hook of the Copenhagen conference to repeat Excelsior Energy’s same old, self-serving promotional claims about the “clean coal” technology of its Mesaba Energy Project. One must wonder why the Press unquestioningly allots opinion space to the promoter of a precarious for-profit venture, financed almost exclusively by $40 million in public funds, which have been benefiting the author and her co-founder husband, Tom Micheletti.

What Jorgensen didn’t say:

• The U.N. negotiators in Copenhagen decided to leave carbon capture and storage, the prime objective of the IGCC technology touted by Excelsior Energy, off the list of clean-energy projects eligible for the Clean Development Mechanism; the 12/17/09 Wall Street Journal reported that “clean coal seems to be getting the cold shoulder at the climate summit”, and  “. . .  clean coal is anything but viable right now”.

• Mesaba’s Unit I would emit 5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year and the Department of Energy has acknowledged that capturing and sequestering the CO2 from the proposed Taconite plant is not feasible.

• The claimed economic benefit has been rejected by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which found the project too expensive and risky and not in the public interest.

• The need for this Project has never been proven; no utility is willing to buy its output; Xcel Energy successfully resisted efforts to force it into a power purchase agreement; and the MPUC has declined to require other utilities in the state to include Mesaba’s output in their resource plans.

• The environmental claims are yet to be adjudicated as the MPUC considers the route and siting permits and other government agencies pursue their concerns related to air, water and waste permits.

Is Jorgensen’s piece really that bad?  See for yourself:

Julie Jorgensen: We need baseload power. Coal’s plentiful. Let’s clean it up

By Julie Jorgensen
Updated: 12/17/2009 05:54:25 PM CST

As heads of government gather in my ancestral home of Denmark, the world considers its energy options.

The challenge for Copenhagen is that commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions are at odds with the plans of developing nations to rely on inexpensive fossil energy to fuel economic growth and improve their standard of living. Developed nations, meanwhile, fear that mandated greenhouse gas reductions will tax economic recovery and prolong global recession. Diplomacy is the art of the achievable, and these realities will be balanced against concerns about the effect of man-made carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases on Earth’s climate.

On the home front, there are plenty of competing concerns to consider as we address our energy needs. But there are two things our local energy experts agree on: Minnesota has an impending need for more baseload power, and renewables can’t do the job alone.

For baseload — that is, the steady supply of electricity for everything from factories to home outlets — Minnesotans must take a long, hard look at the most abundant resource in our own backyard: coal. Not old-fashioned, dirty, polluting coal, but coal used to fuel a new technology called IGCC, which stands for Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle. In addition to producing clean, affordable energy, such plants would allow us to transform America’s 250-year supply of coal into ultra-clean fuels like synthetic natural gas, transportation fuels, and hydrogen.

I’m the co-founder of Excelsior Energy, which is developing the Mesaba Energy Project, an IGCC power plant near the town of Taconite on Minnesota’s Iron Range. From my point of view, IGCC offers economic and environmental benefits to Minnesota. The Midwest is poised be a leader in the delivery of this technology. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Minnesota Legislature have supported the development of Minnesota’s IGCC plant, the Mesaba Energy Project, since 2003, and the project has been exempted from a statewide prohibition against new coal plants. Eleven Midwest governors established a collective goal to spur construction of at least five commercial-scale IGCC plants by 2015, and President Obama announced a goal to build five such “first-of-a-kind” clean coal plants. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has provided significant funding and incentives to the Mesaba Project to offset the costs of needed innovation.

Adoption of IGCC technology is essential to cleaning up coal and mitigating climate change.

IGCC plants use less water, use less land, create less waste, and emit two-thirds less air pollution than the cleanest of the traditional coal plants that currently deliver most of our electricity. In addition, IGCC plants clean a volume of gas that is a mere 1/100th of the stream pouring out of the smokestacks at the Sherco coal plant in Becker and the Boswell coal plant in Cohasset. This makes it easier and cheaper to prevent the release of carbon dioxide, which is essential in the face of potential climate change regulation.

As fears mount about global warming, environmental advocates like the Clean Air Task Force and the Natural Resources Defense Council support the timely and widespread commercialization of IGCC technology. From a global perspective, the importance of commercializing a cleaner way to use coal cannot be understated: both India and China have vast coal reserves, which they will inevitably use in the cheapest and easiest possible ways to fuel their growing economies.

Nuclear power faces major obstacles. Plans for a federal nuclear waste repository have been scrapped. The Obama Administration stopped the DOE’s development of the Yucca Mountain repository, originally slated to begin accepting waste in 1998, without providing an alternative storage plan. As a result, we will store nuclear waste on the banks of the Mississippi River for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, the costs of new nuclear facilities may put them out of reach.

Even if the Legislature lifts Minnesota’s ban on new nuclear plants, it will be at least 20 years before a new plant could be licensed and built in Minnesota, given the long and costly lead-times. Simply put, new nuclear capacity cannot meet our current needs.

While the eyes of the world are on Copenhagen, it’s appropriate for Minnesotans to ponder our own impending energy crisis. Since renewables and conservation can’t meet all of our new energy needs, we must make some difficult choices that ultimately will involve coal-fired, natural gas-fired, and nuclear energy sources. Marrying new IGCC technology with the abundance of U.S. coal makes clean coal the most rational choice for our state.

Julie Jorgensen is the former CEO of CogenAmerica, a publicly traded independent power company, and a former executive of NRG Energy, a global energy development company. She’s a co-founder of Excelsior Energy Inc., which is developing a coal gasification plant near Taconite on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Her e-mail address is JulieJorgensen@ExcelsiorEnergy.com.

excelsior-yahoos