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Texas firm gives plan for $1 billion coal-fired power plant in Schuylkill

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

A Texas firm seeks to construct a coal-fired power plant in the western part of Schuylkill County, at an estimated cost of $1 billion. It would employ more than 1,000 workers to construct the plant and require more than 100 to operate it. However, it is awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Quad Three Group, Inc., on behalf of Future Power, PA. Inc., has submitted an application to the Schuylkill County Zoning Office for a zoning permit, and a sketch to the Schuylkill County Planning Commission of its plan for development of a 150 megawatt electrical generating facility on property totaling 77 acres in Porter and Frailey townships.

According to the sketch plan, the power plant will be an anthracite-fed integrated gas and combined cycle electrical generating plant. The facility will utilize approximately 1,200 tons of coal per day, will employ more than 80 personnel directly at the facility and another 100 personnel in the mining and support facilities.

The sketch plan shows the project site will be located at the existing Summit Anthracite mine site and will be controlled by Future Power PA Inc. through an option awarded by Summit Anthracite Inc. The Summit Anthracite mine site lies to the west of Interstate 81 in Frailey Township, abuts the southern side of SR125 and the easterly side of SR4011, which is the Main Street in the Porter Township. The property is zoned CM (Conservation Mining) District.

Future Power PA Inc. is seeking matching funds from the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative Program. According to its report to the planning commission, the matching funds obtained will accelerate the construction and commissioning of an advanced 270-megawatt integrated gasification combined cycle electricity plant utilizing local anthracite coal with carbon dioxide capture and sequestration.

It also reports that the technology to utilize coal with such low emission levels results from a global effort of the best resources available from the largest coal-bearing countries in the world. Although the project will be manufactured, constructed and commissioned in the United States, vital gasification technical expertise from China's Thermal Power Research institute has been licensed by Future Power PA Inc. The report states China Huaneng Power Group is the controlling and majority owner of China's Thermal Power Research Company and is the largest power utility in China, which manages 150 plants in China.

The report claims the unique location of the proposed project requires almost no fuel transportation or electric power transmission costs commonly associated with such plants. Those savings will provide funding for the expensive carbon dioxide sequestration as well as profit for investors.

A statement from Raj Suri, CEO and president of Future Fueles, in the report states, "We believe this project and any similar ones must be financially viable so private industry can work in tandem with government in a way to make progress without significant burdens on taxpayers and rate payers."

James Palumbo, president of Future Powers PA, Inc., added, "With this project, we will create more than 1,000 jobs to construct the facility followed by hundreds to run the plant. If the funding comes through, we'll be ready to move that much faster."

The report states the power created in this project would serve the PJM West electricity market and satisfy alternative energy portfolio standards required in Pennsylvania. The carbon dioxide will be captured and stored in locations interconnected by pipelines so future sites and converted incumbent plants may also capture, or sequester, carbon in the future using this same network.

The report states the latest engineering and chemistry reports for FPPI indicate the facility will exceed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 standards set for 2020 at startups. FPPI expects an evaluation and decision by the U.S. Department of Energy in the coming months.

Charles Ross, executive director of the county planning commission, cautions that the project has a long way to go, as a sketch presented to the commission only seeks to learn of what is needed in a plan to be approved by the commission, and a sketch plan is not an application seeking approval.

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