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Tech Transition

Utility projects advance the state of the art.

Fortnightly Magazine - July 2009

place Great Bend on the back burner.

Further, since the Mountaineer IGCC facility would supply part of its output to Virginia, regulators in Virginia also had to approve it. In April 2008, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) denied the $1 billion rate recovery request, saying the project is too risky.

“In Ohio, it’s not clear yet whether we’ll be able to get regulatory recovery on Great Bend,” says AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry. “We’ve always said we won’t build it unless we get the rate recovery. Plus, with the economy down, we don’t really need the additional generation right away. We still want to develop both projects. It might be easier once the federal carbon legislation is ironed out and the emissions requirements are clearer.”

However, AEP is nearly finished building a $120 million carbon sequestration project at the Mountaineer plant site. In May, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection awarded AEP the state’s first carbon dioxide sequestration permit for the 20-MW CO 2 capture process validation facility (PVF).

The PVF is based on Alstom’s chilled ammonia process technology, and will capture approximately 100,000 tons of CO 2 per year. The CO 2 will be compressed and stored in saline formations located about 8,000 feet below the earth’s surface.

AEP is picking up more than half of the project’s cost, with Alstom and other participants contributing the rest. “The project was too small to qualify for DOE funding, which requires you to capture at least 300,000 tons of CO 2 per year,” McHenry says. “We haven’t decided whether we’ll seek cost recovery on it. We may use R&D funding.”

McHenry added that AEP already is looking to scale up the technology and has applied for DOE funding for a project that would capture carbon dioxide from a 235-MW flue gas stream at the Mountaineer Plant.

In May, the DOE formally announced $2.4 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be used to expand and accelerate the commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Though a final cost has not been determined yet, AEP hopes to use DOE funding to help underwrite the project, which is expected to have a 90-percent capture rate, or approximately 1.5 million tons of CO 2 per year.

Super Powered

At Consolidated Edison, a pilot program called “Project Hydra” will test the ability of superconductor power cables to deliver up to 10 times more power (using 10 times less underground space) through the Manhattan grid. ConEd also expects the project to improve reliability by allowing the utility to re-route load from one part of the grid to another in an emergency, and to suppress power surges, or fault currents, that can disrupt services and damage power system equipment.

“This is unique because it will allow us to route much more electricity through a single cable and demonstrate a new type of fault current limiting superconductor, which has never been done before,” says Pat Duggan, a project manager for Con Edison. “That’s key because in a large network like ours, a fault with a