Indiana Gasification nears water, air permits for coal project

Indiana Gasification LLC said June 11 that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has issued a public notice for a draft Clean Water Act permit for the company’s coal gasification project, to be located along the Ohio River near Rockport.

The company added that in May, IDEM sent a proposed air permit for the project to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review.  

“Together, these decisions advance the development of the cleanest coal plant ever permitted in the United States,” said Bill Rosenberg, a partner in Indiana Gasification and a former assistant administrator for air at EPA. “The IG facility will help fuel Indiana’s energy future, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and create at least 1,500 high-paying jobs here. Plus, IG guarantees Hoosier ratepayer savings of at least $100 million over 30 years.”

The draft permit reflects Indiana Gasification’s use of an advanced zero liquid discharge system that will filter and reuse most of the wastewater coming from the gasification process and evaporate the rest. No process wastewater will be discharged from the facility, the company noted.   

“With our zero liquid discharge approach, the environmental benefits are two-fold. We’ll have no discharge of process wastewater, which prevents pollution, and we will reuse wastewater, thereby reducing overall water needs. Combined with our unique design for capturing and using stormwater at the facility, Indiana Gasification has designed a system dramatically reducing overall water use and discharge,” said Rosenberg.

Construction on this state-of-the-art facility will not begin until after IDEM issues the final environmental permits, the company said. If all goes as planned, construction will begin in 2013.

The company didn’t mention that various parties, including local gas distribution companies controlled by Vectren Corp. (NYSE: VVC), have appealed a November 2011 approval of the project by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The commission website shows that appeal as still pending as of June 11, with the latest filing in the case made on April 25.

The gasification process will convert about 10,000 tons per day of coal into substitute natural gas (SNG) and liquefied CO2. About 80% of the plant’s SNG output will be sold to the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) under an agreement that guarantees Indiana ratepayers savings of at least $100m over 30 years, Indiana Gasification has said. Several opposing parties, including Vectren, say there is too much risk that regular natural gas will be cheaper over the long term and that Indiana ratepayers will be left holding the bag if the SNG prices are too high.

The facility will use primarily coal, with petroleum coke as a backup, in a quench gasification process to produce SNG and liquefied CO2. Upon completion, the facility expects to annually produce 48 billion cubic feet of SNG and 4.9 million tons of liquefied CO2. About 300 MW of power will be produced, but almost all of it will be used to power plant equipment, with nominal amounts available to the grid. Annual usage will be about 3.85 million tons of Illinois Basin coal. 

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.