California commission announces decisions on HECA coal project

The California Energy Commission on July 7 officially announced that its committee reviewing the proposed 390-MW Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) power plant on July 3 rejected a motion to terminate the project’s application for certification (AFC) and also granted a separate request to suspend the AFC proceeding for six months.

This action had been reported on July 6 by GenerationHub.

Hydrogen Energy California LLC submitted the request for suspension to allow more time to identify a partner to purchase CO2 produced by the plant and negotiate a carbon sequestration agreement, key components of the project’s 2009 revised AFC. According to the application, the plant would gasify blends of petroleum coke (25%) and coal (75%) to produce syngas that would fuel a combustion turbine to produce electricity. About 90% of the CO2 emissions would be captured, and, through an agreement with Occidental of Elk Hills, be transported by pipeline to a nearby oil field where it would be injected into older wells to facilitate enhanced oil recovery.

In 2013, terms of the agreement with Occidental of Elk Hills changed, and the applicant began seeking other buyers for the CO2 and a new sequestration agreement. No buyer had been found by March 2015, when the Sierra Club, HECA Neighbors and the Association of Irritated Residents filed a motion to terminate the AFC alleging the applicant had not exercised due diligence in pursuit of the AFC.

The committee handling this case – Commissioners Karen Douglas, presiding member, and Andrew McAllister, associate member – found that the applicant, through no fault of its own and despite continued efforts, had been unable to secure a revised agreement with Occidental of Elk Hills, its successor California Resources Corporation, or other entities.

In granting the suspension, the committee required Hydrogen Energy California to achieve several milestones by Jan. 6 of next year, including executing a CO2 buyer agreement and carbon sequestration agreement, providing an up-to-date listing of commercial items to be produced by the project, explaining in writing whether production of the items comply with Kern County’s general plan and zoning ordinance, and docketing outstanding data requests from various parties. Failure of the applicant to comply with any of the milestones by January 6 could result in the committee moving to terminate the AFC.

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.