From AP REPORTS
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) – Officials who had been pushing for Texas to be selected as the home for a prototype near-zero emissions coal powered plant weren't surprised Tuesday at news that the U.S. Department of Energy wanted out of the project.
In the days leading up to its announcement on a site in December, the FutureGen Alliance took heat from the department, which wanted the alliance to slow down.
The project's steadily increasing cost and the alliance making its announcement despite DOE's advice, caused friction, Texas officials said.
"That was public, that was out in the press," said Scott Tinker, director of economic geology at the University of Texas at Austin, which helped coordinator the state's effort to nab the project. "There is zero surprise in my voice."
The FutureGen Alliance had selected Matoon, Ill., as the site for the next-generation power plant.
The Department of Energy, after weeks of complaining about rising costs, told members of Illinois' congressional delegation that it wants out of the project. Three-quarters of the money was to have come from the agency, with the rest from power and coal companies in the alliance.
Meanwhile, officials in Odessa and Jewett remained optimistic about clean coal technology having a future in Texas.
"That's a shame because so many people put so much work into that the last two years," said Hoxie Smith, the regional coordinator for the snubbed West Texas site at Penwell, near Odessa. "I would hope and I would assume that (the department) would be redirecting that money to still use it for clean coal technology.
"And I think it'll happen out in West Texas because we have a market for C02."
Carbon dioxide would have been a byproduct of the technology. It would have been sequestered underground for six years after which it could be sold. Injecting the carbon dioxide into oil reservoirs, which oil companies have already done in West Texas, makes it easier to extract the oil.
And Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison seemed poised to try to swoop in and snag some of whatever clean-coal project the DOE might now have in mind.
"With the overall cost of FutureGen nearly doubling, the Department of Energy is wise to review the project to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars," said Hutchison spokesman Matt Mackowiak.
"The state of Texas and our private industry have a lot to offer if DOE decides to competitively bid this project," he said.