Power company bets on CCS growth with new CEO

By Manuel Quiñones
E&E reporter

October 1, 2014 – Seattle-based energy development company Summit Power Group LLC announced this morning it has tapped former General Electric Co. executive Jason Crew to be its new CEO.

Crew will replace longtime CEO Eric Redman, who had indicated an interest in giving up the chief executive post but will remain with the company as co-chairman.

Executives say the management shuffle is evidence of the company’s commitment to focus on clean energy and emissions-reducing technologies, including carbon capture.

“These projects are really large,” Crew said in an interview, addressing the effort by various companies to commercialize carbon capture and storage. “They take a lot of effort by a lot of smart people.”

But he also said, “These projects can be solved and launched. We have been working in this space for quite a long time. There’s a huge demand for this in the world.”

Apart from its wind, solar and natural gas portfolio, Summit is working to develop the $2.5 billion Texas Clean Energy Project, which involves capturing greenhouse gas emissions from a coal plant and using the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.

“I think it’s a really interesting time for hydrocarbons, when you have a massive disparity of value between oil and gas and commodities like coal,” said Crew.

Crew described it as his “life’s work” to promote the commercial availability of emissions reduction technologies. His goal is to help make CCS cheaper and profitable without government help.

“The large-scale demonstration of these projects is going to continue to bring carbon capture and sequestration down in the cost curve,” Crew said. “It feels great to be now part of the Summit team because this company in particular is a real leader in trying to unlock those business models for private investment.”

Summit counts on a $450 million investment from the Department of Energy for the Texas Clean Energy Project. It also has the backing of the Export-Import Bank of China and development help from Chinese giant Sinopec Ltd.

This year the company announced collaborations with the China Huanqiu Contracting & Engineering Corp., an affiliate of the China National Petroleum Corp., and China Huaneng Group’s Clean Energy Research Institute (ClimateWire, July 11).

TCEP, as the Texas project is often called, has seen delays and financing constraints, much like other carbon capture ventures. Summit said Redman will continue focusing on the project from his new post. And Crew said, “We’re continuing to develop it and we’re really optimistic in seeing it move forward.”

Earl Gjelde, Summit’s board chairman, called Crew the “best steward to bring this company forward and into the future.” Gjelde is a former Interior Department undersecretary and a former DOE chief operating officer under President Reagan.

Enhanced oil recovery technology was among Crew’s focus areas at GE. From 2011 to 2013, he led the company’s coal gasification business from Shanghai and helped broker a deal between GE and Chinese coal giant Shenhua.