DOE extends comment period for HECA coal project report

The U.S. Department of Energy has extended the public comment period and added two public hearings on the draft environmental impact statement for the coal-fueled Hydrogen Energy California LLC gasification power plant.

The project proposes to generate between 405 MW and 431 MW gross or an average of 416 MW gross electrical power and between 151 MW to 266 MW net after accounting for onsite auxiliary power loads. 

On July 22, DOE published a notice that provided for a comment period ending Sept 3. DOE said in a notice to be published in the Aug. 26 Federal Register that is now extending the public comment period to Oct. 1 and adding the public hearings.

Comments submitted to California Energy Commission (CEC), which is also reviewing this project, or DOE concerning the Hydrogen Energy California Project (HECA) prior to this meeting do not need to be resubmitted as a result of this extension of the comment period.

The hearings and attendant workshops will be Sept. 17 and 18 in Buttonwillow, Calif.

The original application for certification was filed with the California Energy Commission in 2008, with a revised application submitted in 2009 to reflect a change of the project site to an alternative location. In 2011, Hydrogen Energy California LLC was acquired from the previous owners by SCS Energy California LLC. In May 2012, SCS Energy submitted an amended application reflecting several changes to the original project design.

The proposed project would be located on a 453 acre site (currently used for agricultural production of alfalfa, cotton, and onions). The applicant has an option (contract) to purchase an additional 653 acres adjacent to the project site, which would allow for controlled access and land use. The project site would be located in an unincorporated portion of Kern County, about seven miles west of the city of Bakersfield. The Elk Hills Oil Field is located approximately three miles southwest of the project site. The project would have a 13-mile long natural gas pipeline, 1-mile long potable water pipeline, 2-mile long transmission line interconnecting to a new Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) switching station east of the project site, an approximately three-mile long CO2 pipeline so the CO2 can be used for enhanced oil recovery, a 15-mile long process water pipeline and a five-mile long rail spur for coal deliveries, possibly from Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) mines in New Mexico.

HECA would use an integrated gasification, combined-cycle power system to produce and sell electricity, CO2 and fertilizer. Coal (about 75% of the total feedstock) and petroleum coke (a refinery byproduct), would be gasified with oxygen (obtained from the air separation unit) to produce synthesis gas (syngas). The syngas would be cleaned via scrubbers and absorbers to filter out chlorides, sulfur, mercury, particulates, and impurities. Lastly, the syngas would be stripped of CO2, leaving a hydrogen-rich gas.

The hydrogen rich gas would either be combined with air and used as fuel in a combustion turbine combined cycle facility to produce electricity or sent to an integrated manufacturing complex to produce over 1 million tons per year of nitrogen-based fertilizer. The project would capture up to 90% of the CO2 in the syngas stream, which would then be piped a little over three miles to the Elk Hills Oil Field, where it would be used by Occidental of Elk Hills Inc. (OEHI) for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). This use of captured CO2 could result in the eventual sequestration of approximately 2.6 million tons of CO2 per year.

Some of the captured CO2 and nitrogen from the air separation unit would be used to manufacture urea fertilizer and other nitrogenous compounds. While OEHI has said that it can use as much CO2 as HECA can produce, the stated 20-year lifespan of the OEHI operation is shorter than the 25-year length of time HECA proposes to operate.

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.