Its getting better
Posted on Tue, Oct. 31, 2006
Kentucky has new stake in power plant
Louisville-based E.ON U.S. joins group governing FutureGen plant
By Andy MeadHERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER
Kentucky missed out on an experimental near-zero-emissions power plant called FutureGen, but a Kentucky company will announce today that it's buying a piece of the action.
E.ON U.S., which owns Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities, will put up $25 million to become a FutureGen Alliance member.
Although the plant will probably be built in Texas or Illinois, company officials say lessons learned from the pilot project eventually will mean cleaner air in Kentucky.
"We will be able to take the technology from it and apply it to our own facilities," said Vic Steffieri, the chairman, CEO and president of E.ON U.S.
The technology might be retrofitted onto existing plants or used to build new plants, he said.
The company has not yet decided whether it will ask the Kentucky Public Service Commission for permission to pass some or all of its FutureGen investment to its customers in the state, or even how the commission would react to such a proposal, Steffieri said.
FutureGen is a non-profit partnership of 10 international power companies and the U.S. Department of Energy.
E.ON's $25 million investment will make it the 11th member of the partnership. The Department of Energy is putting up $700 million.
The FutureGen plant will generate 275 megawatts -- enough electricity to supply 150,000 average homes.
What makes it different from existing coal-fired plants is how it will turn coal into electricity, and what will happen to the pollution produced along the way.
The coal won't be burned; it will be heated under pressure and converted into hydrogen and carbon monoxide gases.
They will react with steam to produce more hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen will be used to generate electricity.
The carbon dioxide, which today's power plants send up smokestacks, will be concentrated and pumped deep underground. Also known as CO2, it is a significant contributor to global warming.
The FutureGen Web site says 90 percent of the carbon dioxide will be captured initially, and all eventually will.
Sulfur and ash will be captured and sold for commercial use.
Kentucky was one of several states vying for the plant. State officials were touting a site near Henderson in Western Kentucky.
Kentucky was eliminated in July. Only sites in Texas and Illinois are still in the running.
Reach Andy Mead at 231-3319 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3319; or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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