Energy company considers first underground storage | SummitDaily.com
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Energy company considers first underground storage

DENVER – Xcel Energy is considering building the nation’s first underground storage of carbon emissions from power plants that convert coal to gas.”It’s a little bit scary being the first one out, so that’s why we’re going to do a lot of studies on this,” Xcel CEO Dick Kelly told a group of Colorado business leaders and public officials. “We have to demonstrate to the Public Utilities Commission that the project makes sense for our customers and for us,” The Denver Post reported.Some environmentalists and energy consultants oppose the untested technology.The plan would be to begin construction, likely to take five years, by 2010. The company has begun feasibility studies.Xcel is moving ahead with feasibility studies and negotiations with potential partners, Kelly said.Although two other power plants use coal-gasification technology, Xcel would be the first to capture produced carbon and bury it in a process known as sequestration. Its original proposal was for a 350-megawatt power plant, enough to serve about 350,000 customers, at an estimated cost of $500 million to $1 billion.The company is being urged to build a plant almost twice as large.Coal gasification plants cost from 10 to 20 percent more expensive than a conventional coal-fired generator. Carbon collection and burial add another 35-45 percent to the cost, said Xcel spokesman Tom Henley.”I’m concerned that we are putting so much money into a technology that’s not proven and extremely expensive,” said Nancy LaPlaca, a Denver environmental activist. “I see it as not ready for prime time.”Legislation passed last year would allow the company to bill ratepayers for its cost.”We should never have a situation with a utility having an open checkbook while going into an unproven technology,” said Nick Muller, executive director of the Colorado Independent Energy Association, a consortium of non-utility power-plant developers.—Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com


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