All Eyes on Odessa's Clean Coal Future

by Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY- Guy Andrews at the Odessa Chamber of Commerce has been beaming since he heard the news. "This is probably one of the Department of Energy's most important projects, if not the most important project. It's the one that got the most funding so there's a lot of people who have a stake in making sure this comes to fruition," Andrews said.

The government has given developers $450 million, but that's not enough. It's not even close. The total cost of this clean coal plant is around $2.2 billion. Even so, Andrews isn't worried. "Due to the nature of this project and its importance to the United States and the world, I believe they won't have any problem funding this at all."

Private investors have already committed to helping out and several more are expressing interest. That's because this plant is changing the face of coal. Andrews says, "Coal doesn't traditionally burn clean it's not a source that's real popular."

Still everyone has their eyes on Penwell, where the project is set to turn coal into a clean source of energy. It's producing carbon dioxide that oil workers can use for fracking and urea which helps farmers out with fertilizing their crops.

It's hard to believe that by spring of next year the site will be filled with 1,500 construction workers building the cleanest coal-fueled plant to ever hit Texas.

Developers are figuring out where they'll house all these workers. Right now, they're looking into workforce housing. As Andrews explains, "They put in 'work camps' or 'man camps' and [they're] modular in nature. They provide not only the housing but they do the laundry and they provide three meals a day and take care of all of those facilities."

They're also faced with another key issue. "Water and energy go hand in hand and you can't do one without the other," Andrews said. So, they're busy exploring industrial sources of water, especially desalination.

Andrews tells NewsWest 9, construction is set to begin as early as next spring.