Clean coal plant headed to Odessa makes the history books

June 4, 2009
Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ODESSA – A new industry may soon roll into the Basin and make West Texas a world leader. On Sunday, State lawmakers gave the thumbs up for a new clean coal plant and they’re parking that plant in Odessa.

“This is important not only to Texas, but the United States and the world because there’s so many coal reserves in the world and we have to use that coal and the number one use for it right now is to create electricity,” Gary Vest with Odessa Economic Development said.

Since the legislative session got underway, Tryon Lewis and Senator Kel Seliger have been pushing hard for a clean coal plant that can capture 70% of the carbon dioxide emissions and use it for advanced oil recovery – something they say will redefine the global energy market.

“If the project is executed the way it’s drawn up right now, Odessa will lead the world in clean coal technology quite simply,” Senator Kel Seliger said.

“There wasn’t a whole lot that came out of the legislative session this year,” Vest said. “But our bill came out that gives the incentives to Summit Energy to go ahead with the clean coal power plant that will capture the CO2.”

A site in Penwell is where the FutureGen project would have been. Now it’s the proposed location for the new clean coal plant. Odessa leaders say the cost is estimated at over $2 billion. Summit Energy has applied for a federal loan to finanace the project, something Odessa development says could generate big bucks.

“There won’t be any cost to taxpayers,” Vest said. “As a matter of fact, at some point in time, if this thing is built, it will be the largest taxpayer in Ector County. It will be the largest single capital expenditure in Odessa’s history, if we get this thing to happen here.”

The site will take about three years to complete. Odessa Development says the construction phase will bring in over 1,000 new jobs and the operations will require around 150 employees.

“A lot of local people, a lot of local subs, an opportunity to build and work, so it creates work for a lot of people and that stimulates our economy which is something we need right now,” Vest said.

A plan two years in the making.

“This will be the model for coal plants in the entire world,” Sen. Seliger said. “This will be the way plants will be built from now on.”

“We’ve been the energy epicenter for a long time because of oil and gas,” Vest said. “But here we have the opportunity to step out in another energy sector which is clean coal and that will bring people from all over the world to see this plant and study this plant and see what it’s doing. It really puts us on the map.”

Right now, they’re waiting on two things for Governor Perry to sign the bill and approval of the federal loan. Summit Energy hopes to break ground next year and be up and running by 2013.