January 14, 2014- by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
Valley Watch feels strongly that IDEM did not due it proper diligence in extending the permit to allow an additional six months for construction to begin on the plant that was originally scheduled to be online in 2011. IDEM received a “request” for an extension on December 26, 2013 and grated the extension before the end of the same day. Under the rules of Title V of the Clean Air Act, once a permit is issued, the applicant is required to begin construction within eighteen months. that means the Indiana Gasification permit expired in early December 2013. The reason for the eighteen month period is to force applicants to use the most current technology for pollution control instead of relying solely on what might be antiquated technology for emissions control.
The plant, which is designed to convert coal into synthetic natural gas for home heating and industrial uses was said to cost $2.8 billion in 2008 when it first gained support in the Indiana legislature and that figure has not been updated even in light of the huge cost overruns experienced by Duke Energy in their new plant at Edwardsport which has yet to operate at anywhere near Duke’s promised capacity levels. Duke’s plant has just two gasifiers while the Rockport proposal calls for four gasifiers. Duke’s plant was originally said to cost $1.2 billion but now has a construction cost over $3.3 billion.
Duke’s plant lacks Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) while the Indiana Gasification proposal claims too use that to keep CO2 from being emitted to the atmosphere. However, the US Department of Energy (DOE) says that CCS will add approximately 50% to the capital cost of the construction as well as use 25-40% of the energy the plant will produce, reducing the overall efficiency of the technology significantly.