Secretary Bill Richardson, Kentucky Governor Paul Patton, and
Senator Mitch McConnell today announced that the Kentucky Pioneer
Energy Project, planned for Clark County, KY, will become part of
the federal government's Clean Coal Technology Program.
Richardson approved the use of $78 million in Clean Coal
Technology funding as the federal share of the $432 million project.
The 400-megawatt project will be one of the largest power plant
projects in the federal Clean Coal Technology Program. The program
provides federal matching funds for projects that demonstrate new
ways to use coal while reducing air and other pollutants.
"The Kentucky Pioneer Energy Project will be a showcase
facility," Richardson said. "It will employ advanced,
clean technology that will benefit the environment, provide low cost
power to spur economic growth, and demonstrate how cities can
eliminate municipal solid waste by mixing it with coal to produce
"The Energy Department's participation is a major boost for
the project," said Governor Patton. "It means that project
financing will be significantly strengthened and the project will be
able to incorporate additional high-tech innovations. Importantly
for Kentucky consumers, the plant will produce electricity at rates
that will be among the lowest in the State."
"This public-private sector partnership we are announcing
today will help move Kentucky's coal and electric power industries
into the 21st century with some of the most sophisticated
technology now available," said Senator McConnell. "The
government's role in this project represents a solid investment in
the energy future of Kentucky and this country."
The federal funding is part of agreements reached this week
between the Energy Department, Duke Energy Corp. of North Carolina,
and Global Energy Inc., the Cincinnati-based parent company of
Kentucky Pioneer Energy. Under the agreements, Global Energy will
replace Duke Energy as the department's industrial partner in a
Clean Coal Technology project that had encountered siting
difficulties in southern Illinois.
The Illinois project was to employ much of the same technology as
the Kentucky project, and as part of this week's agreements, the
Energy Department will approve "relocating" the project to
eastern Kentucky. Global Energy, in turn, agreed to incorporate
several unique features of the Illinois project into the Kentucky
project, including tests of advanced fuel cell. The company will
also provide the Energy Department with technology data from the
project's design, construction and operation.
Plans are to use a site near Trapp, Kentucky, originally slated
for a conventional coal-fired power plant nearly two decades ago.
When the forecasted demand for electricity failed to materialize in
the early 1980s, construction at the East Kentucky Power
Cooperative's J.K. Smith site was halted, leaving an excavated tract
with plant foundations, an administration building, railroad spur
and connections to the electrical grid.
Now, the idle 300-acre tract will become the site for a new type
of ultra-clean coal technology. Known as "integrated
gasification combined cycle," the advanced process first
converts coal to a "synthesis gas." A key advantage of the
gasification step is that the synthesis gas can be meticulously
cleaned before it is burned to generate electricity.
In the Kentucky project, the gasification process will
incorporate an added "advanced fuel technology" feature.
Municipal solid waste will be collected and combined with coal to
form fuel briquettes for the gasification process. Global is
reviewing possible "fuel island" locations around the
State where the briquettes will be made.
The synthesis gas will be burned in a combustion turbine to
generate electricity and exhaust heat will be used to boil water to
drive a steam turbine. The combination of the two types of power
generating turbines accounts for the name "combined
Another high-tech innovation will be the use of a fuel cell in
the plant's power generating section. Fuel cells generate
electricity using an electrochemical reaction, much like a battery.
Because no combustion is involved, fuel cells are among the cleanest
power technologies now envisioned. In the Kentucky project, some of
the synthesis gas will be directed to a 1.25-megawatt molten
carbonate fuel cell to be furnished by FuelCell Energy Inc. of
When operations begin in 2002, electricity from the plant will be
sold to East Kentucky Power Cooperative under a 20-year contract.
The project is the fourth in the Clean Coal Technology Program to
demonstrate coal gasification but the first to be partially fueled
by municipal solid waste and to employ a fuel cell. It will also
mean $105 million in cost savings for the taxpayer. The Illinois
project had been projected to cost $841 million with the Energy
Department's share amounting to $183 million. Under the new project
agreement, the Energy Department's share will be capped at $78