Sacramento, California - The California Energy Commission committee reviewing the proposed 390-megawatt Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) power plant rejected a motion to terminate the project’s application for certification (AFC) July 3 and granted a separate request to suspend the AFC for six months.
Hydrogen Energy California LLC submitted the request for suspension May 5 to allow more time to identify a partner to purchase carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the plant and negotiate a carbon sequestration agreement, key components of the project’s 2009 revised AFC. According to the application, the plant would gasify blends of petroleum coke and coal to produce syngas that would fuel a combustion turbine to produce electricity. About 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions would be captured, and, through an agreement with Occidental of Elk Hills, be transported by pipeline to a nearby oil field where it would be injected into older wells to facilitate enhanced oil recovery.
In 2013, terms of the agreement with Occidental of Elk Hills changed, and the applicant began seeking other buyers for the carbon dioxide and a new sequestration agreement. No buyer had been found by March 2015, when the Sierra Club, HECA Neighbors and the Association of Irritated Residents filed a motion to terminate the AFC alleging the applicant had not exercised due diligence in pursuit of the AFC.
Based on testimony from Hydrogen Energy California LLC representatives at a May 6 committee status conference and hearing, the committee – Commissioners Karen Douglas, presiding member, and Andrew McAllister, associate member – found that the applicant, through no fault of its own and despite continued efforts, had been unable to secure a revised agreement with Occidental of Elk Hills, its successor California Resources Corporation, or other entities.
In granting the suspension, the committee required Hydrogen Energy California, LLC to achieve several milestones by January 6, including executing a carbon dioxide buyer agreement and carbon sequestration agreement, providing an up-to-date listing of commercial items to be produced by the project, explaining in writing whether production of the items comply with Kern County’s general plan and zoning ordinance, and docketing outstanding data requests from various parties. Failure of the applicant to comply with any of the milestones by January 6 could result in the committee moving to terminate the AFC.