Workshops scheduled for November on HECA coal project

The California Energy Commission staff will hold workshops on Nov. 13 and Nov. 20 for the proposed, coal-fueled Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) project and the commission committee reviewing the project has scheduled a committee conference.

The committee conference will follow the Nov. 20 workshop. The first workshop on Nov. 13 will be at the California Energy Commission offices in Sacramento. The second workshop and conference on Nov. 20 will be at the Buttonwillow Recreation and Park District Multi-Purpose Facility in Buttonwillow.

The Nov. 13 workshop will enable commission staff, the applicant, intervenors, interested parties, agencies, and the public to discuss the proposed carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions issues identified in the project’s preliminary staff assessment/draft environmental impact statement (PSA/DEIS).

Commission staff and the applicant disagree about how the project should be evaluated for compliance with Senate Bill 1368, the commission said in a Nov. 8 notice.

The law limits long-term investments in baseload generation by the state’s utilities to power plants that meet an emissions performance standard jointly established by the Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission. The workshop is an effort to determine if staff and the applicant can resolve their differences.

The commission staff workshop on Nov. 20 is being held to solicit comments from individuals and organizations on the PSA/DEIS for HECA, identify and resolve areas of disagreement, and discuss additional informational requirements for the final staff assessment/final environmental impact statement (FSA/FEIS).

During the conference, the committee of two commissioners reviewing HECA will discuss the status of the project review and listen to public comment.

The PSA/DEIS released on June 28 was the initial evaluation from commission staff and the U.S. Department of Energy of the project’s environmental, engineering, public health and safety impacts. The evaluation is not a decision by the commission or the Energy Dept. nor does it contain findings of the commission related to the environmental impacts or the project’s compliance with local, state and federal legal requirements.

Information from the workshops will be used to prepare the FSA/FEIS. DOE will use the FSA/FEIS to decide if the project will be awarded funding. The FSA/FEIS will serve as commission staff’s testimony at evidentiary hearings conducted by the committee reviewing the project. The committee will issue a proposed decision based on evidence presented at the hearings. The proposed decision later will be presented to the full Commission for final action.

The project, proposed by SCS Energy LLC, is located about seven miles west of Bakersfield near the town of Tupman in western Kern County. The facility will use an integrated gasification, combined cycle system to produce and sell electricity, CO2 and fertilizer.

It would gasify coal and petroleum coke to produce synthesis gas (syngas). The hydrogen-rich syngas fuel would be used to generate 405 MW to 431 MW (gross). The project would also produce and sell urea fertilizer and other nitrogenous compounds. It would capture about 90% of the CO2 produced from the gasification process and transport it by pipeline for use at the adjacent Elk Hills Oil Field for enhanced oil recovery. Occidental of Elk Hills Inc. owns and operates the field.

Construction is projected to start in 2014 with commercial operation expected in 2018. The proposed schedule is dependent on required approvals from the commission and DOE. The capital cost is estimated at $4bn.

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.