WASHINGTON—Technologies exist to generate clean and abundant electricity with America’s vast domestic fuel resources and effectively address climate change if the country has the will to respond to the challenge, an energy industry authority testified Thursday.
If not, the United States faces a future of sharply rising electricity prices and declining reliability, with the country’s supply of baseload generating capacity shrinking as older plants are retired, said Dr. Gregory Kunkel, vice president of environmental affairs for Tenaska, Inc.
Tenaska, a privately-held energy company based in Omaha, Nebraska, is one of few companies in the U.S. that is actively pursuing development of power plants that use advanced technologies to strictly limit emissions. This includes capture and geologic storage of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).
“Construction of the next generation of clean power plants can begin as soon as firm public policies on climate change are established,” said Kunkel in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
Tenaska is proposing to develop two advanced coal-fueled power plants that could be among the first power plants in the U.S. to introduce carbon capture technology.
- The Taylorville Energy Center in Illinois (www.cleancoalillinois.com) would be an integrated gasification combined-cycle plant that would reduce emissions and potentially capture and store CO2.
- The conventional pulverized coal Tenaska Trailblazer Energy Center in Texas (www.tenaskatrailblazer.com) also would reduce emissions, capture CO2 and transport it via pipeline for use in enhanced oil recovery in the Permian Basin petroleum production area.
To encourage these kinds of projects, Kunkel said, Congress and energy regulators must focus on providing clear and certain regulatory policies. “We who are ready to step up and develop clean energy sources cannot be expected to make these multibillion-dollar investments in an energy policy vacuum.”
Among government policies that will give developers the needed confidence to proceed with clean energy projects, he said, are:
- Cap-and-trade programs that include some free allocation of emission allowances for new sources and bonus allowances for early construction of generation units with carbon capture and storage.
- Government auction of greenhouse gas emission allowances to regulated entities, with proceeds directed to construction of early carbon capture and storage projects or performance payments for demonstrated sequestration.
- Recognition of enhanced oil recovery eligibility for the same benefits as other CO2 sequestration mechanisms.
- Investment tax credits and accelerated depreciation on major carbon capture and storage equipment.
“Technologies to produce electricity virtually emission- and greenhouse gas-free are here today, and, as demonstrated by our proposal to build the Trailblazer plant, Tenaska is willing to be at the forefront of development,” Kunkel said.
“We and other potential developers just require clear and beneficial government policies that will help mitigate the substantial risks inherent in taking that upfront position.”
Tenaska is one of the largest independent power producers in the United States. Forbes magazine ranks Tenaska as 26th among the 424 largest privately-held U.S. companies, based on 2006 revenues. Tenaska has developed approximately 9,000 MW of electric generating capacity across the United States. Tenaska affiliates currently operate and manage eight power plants totaling approximately 6,800 MW that it owns in partnership with other companies. Tenaska is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, with offices in Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Calgary, Alberta Canada. Tenaska affiliates also market natural gas, electric power and biofuels, with Tenaska’s natural gas marketing affiliate rated as one of the top ten natural gas marketers in North America. Tenaska affiliates are also involved in private equity investments and acquisition management, fuel supply, gas transportation systems and electric transmission development. For more information about Tenaska, visit the company’s Web site at www.tenaska.com.
About Dr. Gregory Kunkel
As Tenaska vice president of environmental affairs, Kunkel directs environmental compliance, permitting and water resource development activities. He assures compliance with environmental requirements, including management systems, compliance monitoring and reporting, and technical support. In addition, Kunkel directs environmental commodity transactions, including emission allowance and emission reduction credits; domestic and international carbon credits; and development of carbon dioxide offset, capture, sequestration and delivery arrangements. He has led successful environmental efforts in 14 states and five foreign countries for Tenaska projects. Kunkel earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his doctorate in botany from the University of California at Davis.