Heitkamp bill supports advanced coal technology

Basin Electric Power Cooperative said Feb. 26 that it supports an advanced clean coal technology funding bill just introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

Advanced Clean Coal Technology Investment in Our Nation) Act would provide incentives to utilities that invest in technologies that reduce the carbon footprint of coal-based electricity.

In her own press release, Heitkamp said the legislation would prevent the de-funding of the FutureGen project in Illinois, which was announced earlier this month.

As the suspended federal funding for the long-stalled, and potentially billion-dollar plus clean coal energy plant, FutureGen, demonstrates, no realistic funding system currently exists to move carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects forward, Heitkamp said. The senator said her bill would change that by providing a path forward for practical and viable clean coal energy production.

$2bn of DOE loan money would be earmarked for coal

Among other things, Heitkamp’s bill would direct 25%, or $2bn, of the current Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee program funding for fossil energy to coal projects. The bill would also enable eligible projects to get DOE loan guarantees even if they have received another source of federal assistance.

The lawmaker would also increase the current tax credit for carbon sequestration from coal plants to 30% and include poly-generation facilities among the eligible projects.

An “all-of-the-above” energy strategy should include coal, said Basin Electric CEO and General Manager Paul Sukut. “The passage of this bill would be one more step forward in assuring the viability of coal going into the future. Coal is our most abundant fuel source, and we believe the path to continue to use coal is by finding beneficial uses for carbon dioxide,” Sukut said.

Basin Electric also noted that coal is currently used to produce almost 40% of the electricity in the United States, and 80% of the electricity in North Dakota.

Basin Electric has been a leader in carbon dioxide sequestration, participating in the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world. Through Basin Electric’s subsidiary, Dakota Gasification, the cooperative has been capturing carbon dioxide from the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, N.D., since 2000, and has captured more than 30 million metric tons since. The gas is compressed and sent via a 205-mile pipeline to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where it’s used for enhanced oil recovery in the Weyburn and Midale oil fields.

Basin Electric has also studied the feasibility of capturing carbon dioxide from the Antelope Valley Station near Beulah. The cooperative completed a frontend engineering & design study with HTC Purenergy and Doosan Babcock, but was unable to put together a workable business plan that would allow the Antelope Valley Station project to move forward.

Sukut noted that Heitkamp served as a director on the Dakota Gasification board from 2001 to 2012 and is familiar with advanced coal technology.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.