Recently approved legislation in Illinois regarding carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants could have an impact on Paducah Power System — but not until 2035 at the earliest.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker praised the Senate passage of the comprehensive energy package Senate Bill 2408 on Monday and signaled his intent to sign it into law.
“The state of Illinois is making history by setting aggressive standards for a 100% clean energy future,” Pritzker said.
“After years of debate and discussion, science has prevailed, and we are charting a new future that works to mitigate the impacts of climate change here in Illinois.”
Paducah Power System is an owner/investor in the Prairie State Energy Campus, a 1,600-Megawatt state-of-the-art power plant in Marissa, Illinois, in the Metro East Area.
Dave Carroll, PPS general manager, is also chairman of the board of directors of Prairie State. He updated the PPS board on the Illinois legislation Monday.
“Basically, it provides the state now with a policy to move towards 100% clean energy by 2050. It requires all private coal-fired and oil-fired electric generation units to close by Jan. 1, 2030. This would be investor-owned utilities,” he said.
Municipal-owned coal plants, which would include Prairie State and Springfield, Illinois’ City, Water, Light and Power, would be required to be 100% carbon-free by Dec. 31, 2045.
There would be an interim emissions reduction target of 45% no later than Jan. 1, 2035, Carroll said, with the thought being a carbon-capturing facility could be added to one of the Prairie State plant’s two units.
“If we were unable to have a carbon-capture facility installed, and capture 45% of the plant’s CO2 emissions, then we would be required by 2038 to have a 45% reduction by some other means which would probably mean either shutting down one unit or scaling back the output and keeping the two,” he said.
The Prairie State board toured a carbon-capture facility at a coal plant in Houston, Texas about a year-and-a-half ago, Carroll said, with the technology showing some promise in capturing in excess of 90% of the carbon from the facility.
There are tax credits available for the capture of carbon and Prairie State currently has an engineering and design study underway on a carbon-capture facility at Prairie State, funded primarily by a Department of Energy grant.
The DOE is interested in working with Prairie State “because they see, if there is going to be coal in the future, this is the technology that could work, so they’re very excited to work with us,” Carroll said.
That study is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
There is also some legislation at the federal level to increase the tax credit on the dollars-per-ton of captured carbon, he said.
“While I would have hoped for a little better result out of the Illinois legislation, this isn’t something that surprises us,” Carroll told the PPS board.
“If you look at where we’re going as a country, with the push for more and more renewable energy, and reduction in CO2 emissions, this is something that we’re going to be faced with moving forward,” he said.
“One of the things that’s in the legislation that I think is important, it allows units to stay open if it is determined that the ongoing operation is necessary to maintain power grid supply and reliability.
“So, you have all of these dates and targets, but if the grid reliability is threatened by the closure of the unit ... the unit stays online,” he said.
Carroll said in the power grid Prairie State is located in, 45% of the online generation is coal, and 32% natural gas.
“So, you’ve got 77% of all the generation keeping the grid going, emitting CO2. That is extremely difficult to replace that amount of generation in a short amount of time.”
The current forecast is that by 2027 there will only be two coal-filed plants in Illinois, the municipals Prairie State and Springfield’s CWLP, Carroll said.
“And, in this legislation it’s saying all the gas plants will will be offline in Illinois by 2045 as well. This is going to be a huge challenge. Actually, I think neither side is happy,” he said.
“The environmentalists are probably not completely satisfied with this legislation and, of course, we’re not either. And, there’s federal legislation being drafted now dealing with this and we’ll have to see what comes out of that.
“It’s not going away. This will be a constant battle.”
Follow David Zoeller on Twitter, @DZoeller_TheSun