‘Clean coal’ developer Sargas argues for changes in Illinois Power Agency plan

Sargas Inc., which is trying to develop an 80-MW, coal-fired project in Illinois, told the Illinois Commerce Commission on Nov. 24 that the Illinois Power Agency needs to fix its proposed procurement plan for power for certain Illinois ratepayers.

Sargas argues that its project, like the more well known FutureGen 2.0 power project, would qualify for a legislatively-created carve-out preference for a “clean coal” project. The Sargas project would include carbon capture and storage facilities, making it very clean by most any standards.

Sargas on Nov. 24 submitted its exceptions to a proposed order of the administrative law judge in this case. “Sargas appreciates the acknowledgement in the Proposed Order that there are no prohibitions against the consideration of a clean coal competitive procurement as outlined by Sargas. Sargas simply seeks an open competitive procurement process for allowing any qualified clean coal facility the opportunity to bid – Sargas seeks no special concessions or treatment for itself. Sargas has always maintained that its design and performance make it a ‘clean coal facility’ as that term is defined in the Illinois Statutes. Finally, Sargas believes that the positions taken by the IPA, ICC staff and the administrative law judge, will effectively end the possibility of any future projects being considered under the clean coal portfolio statute as they are currently written, and therefore will directly thwart the direct intent of the Illinois Legislature in the promotion of the development of clean coal facilities in Illinois.”

In its Dec. 1 response to various comments, IPA said about Sargas: “On exceptions, Sargas seeks the inclusion of a competitive clean coal procurement in part because ‘[t]he current 5-year procurement planning horizon contains no clean coal project or procurement.’ This is incorrect, as the IPA’s current procurement planning horizon features executed sourcing agreements with a retrofit clean coal facility as defined by Section 1-75(d)(5) of the IPA Act (FutureGen 2.0). Delivery of electricity under those agreements is scheduled to commence in 2017. To avoid such confusion, the Commission should consider an express statement that the IPA’s 2015 Procurement Plan includes ‘electricity generated using clean coal’ by virtue of existing contracts with the FutureGen 2.0 facility.

“Sargas presents no new arguments on exceptions for its competitive clean coal procurement proposal, and its proposed language fails to draw any distinction between procurement on behalf of eligible retail customers and procurement binding alternative suppliers (which is prohibited absent express statutory authority to the contrary). Further, its statement that the Proposed Order would ‘end the possibility of any future projects being considered under the clean coal portfolio statute as they are currently written’ is also incorrect, as projects meeting other criteria may still proceed under provisions other than Section 1-75(d)(1). For reasons explained in its 2015 Procurement Plan (pp. 95-97) and Response (pp. 32-35), the IPA opposes this proposal and Sargas’s exceptions should be rejected.”

Sargas is developing, with help from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Illinois Clean Coal Review Board, a coal plant at Mattoon, Ill. The plant would use the company’s pressurized fluidized bed combustion technology, with over 90% of the CO2 from the plant captured for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or for simple geologic storage. EOR sites have been identified in Illinois near the power plant site. The technology and design allows for employment of this system in 80-MW increments, with the initial plan for Mattoon being one 80-MW module. The CO2-capture system would use an inorganic, mineral-based adsorbent.

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.