First Public Hearing Held for Odessa Clean Coal Plant
By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

It's the first of it's kind in the world and if all goes according to plan in just about a year, a clean coal plant will spring up in West Texas. The $2 billion venture promises, not only a global energy impact, but a boost for our Basin job market and revenue.

The Department of Energy and Summit Power executives met at Odessa College holding the first public hearing. That gave West Texans a chance to learn more about this new industry and ask questions. NewsWest 9 caught up with the people behind this new venture to find out what it means for the Basin.

A site in Penwell - where the FutureGen project would have been - is now the planned site for a clean coal plant unlike any other.

"It's a very unusual plant," Laura Miller, Summit Power Director of Projects, said. "It's the first of it's kind coal plant, it has very low emissions, and captures 90 percent of it's carbon dioxide which is greenhouse gas that many people believe lead to global warming."

The Department of Energy has tentatively promised $350 million dollars for the project and Thursday night, they wanted to hear feedback from the community before they commit to backing this plant.

"The Department is interested in demonstrating new technology that will allow us to generate electricity more cleanly from coal," Mark McKoy with the Department of Energy, said.

But a main concern is the impact to our air quality and water.

"Environmentally, we think it's a tremendous asset to the community because it has low emissions, very low impact to the air," Miller said. "There is no liquid that comes off the plant."

In just ten days, they'll begin the designing process, and through that, they'll determine the total cost, which right now, is estimated at $2 billion. Summit Power officials hope to break ground within the next year.

"One of the reasons the federal government decided to give an award to this project is because it's in the Permian Basin," Miller said. "This is the perfect place in the world to put a plant like this. You take all the CO2, as everyone out here knows, you put it in the ground, you bring up oil and it's a wonderful win-win for everybody."

For West Texas, all of this means almost 2,000 construction jobs and 150 permanent positions.