California commission to review HECA power project at May 6 status conference

The California Energy Commission committee assigned to conduct proceedings on the Application for Certification (AFC) for the Hydrogen Energy California Project (HECA) has scheduled a May 6 public status conference to review the progress of the case and consider a motion by environmental groups to terminate this case.

The status conference will be at the commission’s offices in Sacramento.

In July 2008, Hydrogen Energy International LLC filed for approval of the Hydrogen Energy California Project (HECA), an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power generating facility rated at a nominal gross generating capacity of 390 MW. It then filed a revised application in May 2009 for the same project at a different location. The proposed HECA would be located near Tupman in western Kern County, California, seven miles west of the city limit of Bakersfield. The project would be fueled by a combination of coal and petroleum coke, and would inject its emissions of CO2 into the adjacent Elk Hills Oil Field, operated by a unit of Occidental Petroleum, for carbon sequestration and enhanced oil recovery.

SCS Energy California LLC acquired 100% ownership of HECA in September 2011, undertook the re-design of some aspects of the project, and submitted an Amended AFC in May 2012. In June 2013, Energy Commission staff published the Preliminary Staff Assessment and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (PSA/DEIS). According to status reports issued by the parties since then, publication of a final FSA/Revised DEIS has been delayed because applicant has not provided information required by staff to complete its analysis. Among outstanding items were responses to data requests regarding potential impacts in the Elk Hills Oil Field and specific, detailed information related to the carbon sequestration plan.

According to staff’s April 2014 Status Report, Occidental’s Board of Directors had authorized Occidental California to become a separately traded company that would announce its management team in the third quarter 2014, which could impact the project schedule. Applicant was engaged in discussions with Occidental of Elk Hills regarding its continued participation in the project.

On March 3 of this year, environmental group intervenors filed a motion to terminate the AFC based upon an alleged lack of diligence on the part of applicant to pursue completion of the review process. Applicant’s response to the motion, dated March 18, sets forth factual assertions that applicant is no longer certain the project will have the Elk Hills Oil Field as its carbon sequestration site. Applicant is focusing on alternative plans for use and/or storage of CO2, including discussions with un-named potential off-takers for the CO2.

In light of the lengthy deviation from the prior schedule and to address intervenors’ motion, the committee has scheduled this May 6 status conference, said the commission in an April 17 notice.

The project, as currently proposed, would gasify blends of petroleum coke (25%) and coal (75%) to produce hydrogen to fuel a combustion turbine operating in combined cycle mode. The gasification component would produce 180 million standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFD) of hydrogen to feed a 400 MW (gross), 288 MW (net) combined cycle plant. The gasification component would also capture approximately 130 MMSCFD of carbon dioxide (or approximately 90% at steady-state operation) which would be transported and used for enhanced oil recovery and sequestration (storage) in the Elk Hills Oil Field Unit. The HECA project would also produce approximately 1 million tons of fertilizer for domestic use.

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.