Peabody Gets $20M for Power Plant 
New facility near Grants to employ as many as 250
    

by Jim Maniaci Staff Writer
Gallup Independent
15 October 2004
   

WINDOW ROCK The federal Energy Department announced in Santa Fe Thursday afternoon a grant of almost $20 million to Peabody Energy for a new ultra-low emissions coal-fired power plant near Grants.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced the $19.7 million Clean Coal Power Initiative grant will be to demonstrate for the first time on a commercial scale new technology to achieve the super-low emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.

The grant will cover about one-fourth of the $79 million project, Abraham said.

Peabody's proposed El Segundo Mine, adjacent to the Lee Ranch Mine, would supply about a million tons of coal for a 300 megawatt electric generating facility called the Mustang Energy Project, bringing in between 200 and 250 jobs for the plant, plus an associated by-products operation, according to Peabody press officer Beth Sutton.

Grants' economy would benefit by having more than $15 million a year of skilled, high-paying wages and benefits with 150 to 200 of the workers at the power plant and a projected 50 more jobs in the "regeneration" operation which would convert the air pollution by-products of sulfur and nitrogen into fertilizer, Sutton said.

As a rule of thumb, she said the company figures three additional jobs would be created in the local economy for each power plant job.

Secretary Abraham said the grant is part of President George W. Bush's 10-year $2 billion Clean Coal Power Initiative. The Secretary noted that coal is America's"most abundant energy resource."

He added, "The project is unique in that it also advances President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative by controlling harmful emission from the plant and doing so at a success rate we don't often see in an industrial setting."

Said Peabody's Roger B. Walcott Jr., executive vice president for corporate development, "Peabody will continue to advocate research, development and deployment of advanced clean coal technologies. Our goal for Mustang is to demonstrate technology that will continue to improve emissions for coal-fueled generating plants." The corporation, based in St. Louis, is the world's largest private coal company.

Sutton added, "Mustang seeks to demonstrate state-of-the-art technology to support the industry's drive towards near-zero emissions from coal-fueled plants." And as the project demonstrates it successes, the grant would be repaid, she added.

The proprietary technology of one of Peabody's partners, Airborne Clean Energy Limited Liability Company of Terrace Park, Ohio, is similar to current tower scrubbers. It will use a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) agent to scrub out an estimated 99.5 percent of the sulfur dioxide, 98 percent of the nitrogen oxide and 90 percent of the mercury.

"Mustang will minimize emissions and water use by employing low-NOx burners, fabric filtration and a dry cooling system," while supplying electricity for an estimated 300,000 families in the southwest, she said.

In a bar graph, Peabody notes as the U.S. average in 1970 coal-powered plants pumped 4.37 pounds per million BTU of SO2 and 1.08 pounds per million British Thermal Units (MBTU) of NOx into the air.

In 2003, the average from power plants in New Mexico had plummeted to .34 and .5 pounds per MBTU, which was lower than the national average for SO2 by about two-thirds, but about one-fourth higher than the national average for NOx.

In comparison, Peabody projects Mustang will produce .02 pounds of SO2 and .01 pounds of NOx, Sutton pointed out.

Because the permit process takes time an environment impact statement usually requires 12-18 months no estimated can be given for a groundbreaking.

The two coal mines and power plant would be about 35 miles from Grants. The site was chosen, Peabody said, for its access to coal (with a medium level of sulfur), land, transmission lines and rail service.

Sutton said Peabody also must sell long-term contracts to utilities for the plant's power as well as look for partners, either for partial ownership and/or power sales, as the final steps to putting the plant into operation, once all the permits are obtained.

In addition to Airborne Clean Energy LLC, which is a licensed patent holder of Airborne Technologies, Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the other Mustang partners are HPD, Veolia Water Systems, a subsidiary of Veolia Environment, the largest environment services company in the world, with American headquarters in Plainfield, Ill., and international headquarters in Bilbao, Spain, and Icon, Inc., a private minority engineering corporation in Dayton, Ohio.

Peabody currently also is building two plants of 1,500 megawatts each in the Midwest.

    


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