NY Pulls Plug on $1.5B Clean Coal Plant

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Chalk up one more for our coal power deathwatch list and this one was even going to be “clean coal.” The New York Power Authority has informed NRG Energy that it doesn’t have the financing for a planned $1.5 billion coal power plant in western New York that would have used an integrated gasification combined cycle system to convert coal into much cleaner burning syngas.

The state will be letting its partnership with the energy provider expire at the end of the month. A New York Power Authority spokeswoman told Reuters: “The economic, technical and regulatory obstacles are too great to warrant further efforts at this time.” So the only things holding clean coal back are the minor details – money, technology and policy. No wonder clean coal has gone nowhere.

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The Feds and banks have both scaled back loans for coal plants with carbon regulation likely to become a reality with the next administration. And clean coal projects are proving prohibitively expensive with their early stage technologies. David Crane, NRG President and CEO, admitted in a statement: “The Huntley IGCC project was, in many ways, ahead of its time.” Many scientists agree and don’t think it’ll be clean coal’s time for a decade.

With clean coal projects getting scuttled and few large-scale test projects scheduled, especially in the U.S. since the cancellation of the DOE’s FutureGen project, there doesn’t seem to be much progress in demonstrating the technology of carbon capture and sequestration. (Although, EPA earlier this week proposed a framework for regulating underground carbon sequestration projects.)

This isn’t the first time NRG has had the kibosh put on its plans for a clean coal plant. Last year, a court ordered Delaware utility Delmarva to buy power from Bluewater Wind’s offshore wind farm instead of from a 600MW clean coal plant NRG had proposed to build at its Indian River site.

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