Clean Coal Plant Project (Jamestown, New York)

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The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities (JBPU) has proposed a 40 megawatt (MW) coal plant at its Samuel A. Carlson Generating Station in Jamestown, New York. The plant will utilize circulating fluidized bed technology and burn coal, petroleum coke, and wood coal.[1]

The Concerned Citizens Group of the Jamestown Area represents several environmental groups opposed to the project, including the Sierra Club, the American Lung Association, and the New York Public Interest Research Group.[2]

In December 2009 the U.S. Department of Energy announced that had not been funded in the third round of grants for Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) demonstration projects.[3]

The evolution of the project

In March 2006 the JBPU held "scoping meetings" for "the Clean Coal Project". In its 2008 annual report the JPBU noted that "the BPU Board approved Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed clean coal circulating fluidized bed (CFB) power plant; held a public hearing for comments on the DEIS; and accepted comments in writing on the DEIS until January 19, 2007." In May 2007 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved BPU's draft air permit for the project and the JBPU accepted the final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the CFB project.[4]

Two months later the board announced that they had joined with a Connecticut-based industrial gas company, Praxair, Inc., Ecology & Environment, the University of Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Dresser-Rand, and Foster Wheeler "in announcing a potential carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project that could become an international model for future energy development." The CCS would be added to the proposed CFB power plant.[4]

By the end of December 2007, the Jamestown City Council had not taken a stance on the project as there had been some friction between the JBPU and City Council President Dolce over the project. The final federal air permit for the plant was reported to be complete, but JBPU had asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to put the permit on hold while it decided on possible changes to the plant design, which would trigger a new permitting process.[5][6]

In 2008 New York State allocated $400,000 to assist with "geologic and sequestration studies." Later still the New York State Governor David Paterson announced that $6 million in state funding would be provided to assist the project.[4] However, winning funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative in its third round of grants for Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plants was crucial to the project.[7] The project was not selected for funding by DOE.[8]

By June 2008, the JBPU was still researching possible changes to the proposed plant.[6]

On October 1, 2008, JBPU held a community meeting to provide details of its Jamestown plant, including the plant's proposed oxy-coal technology and plans for carbon capture and storage. The meeting was addressed by Dante Bonaquist and Rick Victor from Praxair, George A. Rusk and Robert Singer from Ecology & Environment (E & E), which was described as "a Buffalo-based corporation that specializes internationally in climate change issues", and Dr. Harvey Stenger, Jr., the Dean of the University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.[9]

Plant officials claim they will capture 99% of the plant's carbon dioxide emissions, which will be liquefied and stored underground. JBPU stated that they intended that the plant come online in 2013.[6]

Supporters of the project pinned their hopes on the proposed plant getting funding from the 2009 economic stimulus package.[10] However, in August 2009, Praxair ranked Jamestown as the backup site for its demonstration "clean coal" project. Initially the company had chosen Jamestown as the primary site for the project, but then opted to focus on Holland, Michigan as its top priority. The company may reconsider Jamestown if the Holland project proves unfeasible. The decision leaves the fate of the Jamestown plant unclear. Dave Leathers, general manager of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, said he hoped to reverse the decision.[11]

Added to that, the prospects for winning as much as $300 million for the project from the DOE's Clean Coal Power Initiative program appear forlorn. The Clean Energy for Jamestown campaign reports that the program was be "zero budgeted for Fiscal Year 2011, making it abundantly clear that this project will not and cannot be funded."[8]

Environmental groups release study of alternatives to Jamestown plant

In September 2009, a coalition of more than 20 environmental groups released a study showing the high cost potential of electricity from the Jamestown plant and comparing that cost to alternative means of meeting electricity demand. The study found that electricity generated by the proposed plant could cost as much as $0.27/kilowatt hour. With federal and state subsidies to cover carbon capture and storage implementation, the cost would be an estimated $0.19/kwH, which is almost 10 times as expensive as using New York Power Authority (NYPA) hydropower, 5 times as expensive as meeting electricity demand with energy efficiency, and 2 to 3 times as expensive as using wind power. The full study is available here.[12] The groups also released a "Plan B" proposal to replace the plant, which includes permanently closing the existing coal plant, continuing to purchase hydropower from NYPA, and implementing energy efficiency programs and small-scale wind generation.[13]

Project Details

Sponsor: Jamestown Board of Public Utilities
Location: Jamestown, NY (Steele Street Facility)
Capacity: 40 MW
Type: IGCC
Projected in Service: TBD
Status: Permitting

Financing

Citizen Groups

Resources

References

  1. "Tracking New Coal-Fired Power Plants", National Energy Technology Lab, May 1, 2007, page 17 (Pdf).
  2. "Environmental Groups Unanimous in Opposing Jamestown Coal Burner", Concerned Citizens Group of the Jamestown Area, January 22, 2007.
  3. Environmental Advocates of New York , "US Dept of Energy Says 'No' to Jamestown, NY's Dirty Coal Proposal", Media Release, December 7, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, 2008 Annual Report, Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, pages 6-7.
  5. "Council Members Unaware of Recent Updates Involving Proposal", Jamestown Post-Journal, December 11, 2007.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed July 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  7. “DOE Funding Not a Sure Thing, But Project Team Still Intact", Jamestown Post-Journal, December 22, 2007.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Clean Energy for Jamestown, "Good News and Bad News about the Proposed 50 MW Coal Plant in Jamestown NY", Clean Energy for Jamestown website, accessed May 2010.
  9. Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, "Western New York Scientists and Technical Experts to Explain BPU Power Plant Project at October 1 Ward One Meeting at C.C. Ring School Auditorium", Media Release, September 26, 2008.
  10. "Hopes rise for coal plant in Jamestown", David Robinson, The Buffalo News, March 15, 2009.
  11. Mark Sommer, "Shift in Jamestown ‘clean coal’ plans decried, lauded," Buffalo News, August 14, 2009.
  12. Power from "Clean" Jamestown Coal Plant Could Cost 10 Times NYPA Rate," Clean Energy for Jamestown, September 17, 2009.
  13. "A Sensible 'Plan B' for Jamestown Electric Ratepayers," Clean Energy for Jamestown, September 17, 2009.

Related SourceWatch Articles

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External resources

  • Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, Jamestown Oxy-Coal, Jamestown Board of Public Utilities website, accessed August 2009.

External links