In the latest sign of a shaky future for the nation’s first coal-to-gas conversion plant, one of the project’s major investors has written it off as a loss. Ben Storrow of the Casper Star-Tribune has been following the development and spoke with Wyoming Public Radio energy reporter Stephanie Joyce about what it means for the future of the project.
STEPHANIE JOYCE: So, to start, for any of our listeners who might be at little fuzzy on the details of the DKRW Advanced Fuels project, can you give us the 30-second overview of its history?
It could be another three years before construction begins on a coal-to-liquid fuel facility in Medicine Bow -- if it begins at all.
DKRW has struggled with financing for the $2 billion project since it was first permitted in 2008.
On Wednesday, the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council granted DKRW a 30-month extension on its construction permits. That’s the third time the company has been granted an extension, but this one comes with a special caveat. If the company doesn’t start building the conversion facility by the end of that period, it’s agreed to give up its permit.
DKRW Advanced Fuels, the company that’s proposing to build a coal-to-liquids conversion facility near Medicine Bow, has submitted yet another request to delay construction. The company announced its latest construction schedule in June. It's now asking to place that schedule on hold for up to 30 months. At the end of that period it would either provide all necessary information – including a new construction schedule, socioeconomic analysis, and updated housing plan – or lose its permit.
DKRW Advanced Fuels has submitted updated materials to the state Industrial Siting Division regarding a proposed a coal-to-liquids conversion facility near Medicine Bow. Construction was slated to start this year, but in March the company pulled its construction schedule and socioeconomic impact report from its file with the Industrial Siting Division and the Division gave them until June 19th to submit updated materials.
This week Carbon County Commissioners were told that the huge Chokecherry and Sierre Madre wind project will be delayed a year and that construction for the DKRW coal to gas plant will be delayed another year as well.
County Commissioner Leo Chapman says the wind project needed more time to deal with some sensitive siting issues. Chapman says the one-thousand-turbine Chokecherry and Sierre Madre wind project is necessary for parts of the country that need clean energy.
A new report, released by several stakeholders including the Wyoming Business Council, the University of Wyoming, and the Idaho National Laboratory, says there’s potential to add value to the state’s abundant energy resources. Ideas to generate value include a carbon-conversion industry to produce synthetic transportation fuels, and diversifying power generation in the state to include more wind and nuclear energy.
Wyoming Business Council CEO Bob Jensen says the report looks at both the near and distant future.
A plan to build a coal to liquids plant in Medicine Bow took a major step forward. D-K-R-W Advanced Fuels has entered into a contract with Sinopec Engineering Group to build the facility.
D-K-R-W Executive Chairman Bob Kelly says he is now very optimistic that the project will become a reality.
“It’s a big step. It enables us to know go to the international banking and equity community and lay out the project economics. And our target is to finalize financing by the end of the year and the first quarter of 2013. And once that’s done, you are going into construction. ”
Earlier this year we told you about an effort to turn coal into gas in Medicine Bow. Today DKRW Advanced Fuels has announced that it has secured a contract to its Medicine Bow project with the Sinopec Engineering Group in based out of China. Bob Kelly is Executive Chairman and co-founder of DKRW, and he tells Bob Beck that getting an actual bid on the facility puts wheels in motion.
The Editor and Chief of the on-line publication WyoFile has been busying covering the D-K-R-W project since it was first proposed. Dustin Bleizeffer has also written about other clean coal projects and he says this one actually might come to fruition.
The head of a Texas company that plans to build a plant to convert coal to gasoline in Carbon County says discussions are still ongoing with Idaho National Laboratory about reviewing the project.
Robert Kelly is chairman of DKRW Advanced Fuels. He says Monday that he expects the laboratory review will take about 30 days once an agreement is reached.
DKRW last year asked Wyoming to purchase up to $300 million in industrial development bonds to help finance the $2 billion project. The state Legislature would have to authorize any investment above $100 million.