Preliminary Staff Assessment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement Released for the Hydrogen Energy California Project

The California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy today released a preliminary analysis of the proposed Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) project.

The preliminary staff assessment/draft environmental impact statement (PSA/DEIS), concluded that the proposed facility has significant, and for the most part, unresolved issues. The power plant facility would use integrated gasification combined cycle and carbon capture technology on a commercial scale.

The 15 technical sections with either significant, unmitigated impacts, non-compliance with applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards (LORS) or outstanding issues that need resolution through additional data, further discussion and/or analysis are: air quality; biological resources; carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions; cultural resources; land use; noise and vibration; soil and surface water resources; traffic and transportation; visual resources; waste management; water supply; geology and paleontology; power plant efficiency; power plant reliability; and transmission system engineering.

The PSA/DEIS is the initial evaluation from Energy Commission staff and the Energy Department of the environmental, engineering, public health and safety impacts of the proposed facility. The assessment also determines whether the project conforms to all LORS.

The document is not a decision from the Energy Commission or the Energy Department nor does it contain findings of the Energy Commission related to the environmental impacts or the project’s compliance with local, state and federal legal requirements. There will be a workshop and public comment period for the PSA/DEIS.

A final staff assessment/final environmental impact statement (FSA/DEIS) will be released. The FSA/FEIS will serve as Energy Commission staff’s testimony at evidentiary hearings conducted by the committee of two commissioners reviewing the proposed project. The committee will issue a proposed decision based on evidence presented at the hearings. The proposed decision will be presented to the full Energy Commission for a final decision.

The Energy Department is proposing to provide financial assistance to design, construct, and demonstrate the HECA project. The Energy Department will use the FSA/FEIS to decide if the HECA project will be awarded funding.

The HECA project, proposed by SCS Energy, LLC, is located about seven miles west of Bakersfield near the town of Tupman in western Kern County. The project would be located on 1,106 acres of private land currently used for agricultural uses. The facility would be located on 453 acres with the remaining 653 acres used for a controlled buffer area.

The HECA project will use an integrated gasification, combined cycle system to produce and sell electricity, carbon dioxide, and fertilizer. The project would gasify coal and petroleum coke to produce synthesis gas (syngas). The hydrogen-rich syngas fuel would be used to generate up to 431 megawatts (MW) gross of electricity. The facility would also produce and sell urea fertilizer and other nitrogenous compounds.

The proposed plant would capture about 90 percent of the carbon dioxide produced from the gasification process and transport it by pipeline for use at the adjacent Elk Hills Oil Field for enhanced oil recovery that would result in sequestration. Occidental of Elk Hills, Inc. owns and operates the field.

The applicant estimates that it will take about four years for the HECA project to be completed, with construction projected to start January 2014 and commercial operation expected by April 2018. The proposed schedule is contingent on the project obtaining the required approvals from the Energy Commission and the Energy Department.

The estimated capital cost for the HECA project is $4 billion. The project would require an average construction workforce of 1,160 workers, with a peak of 2,461. An average of 200 full-time employees would be needed when the project is operating, according to the applicant.

The California Energy Commission is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state’s appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies. For more information, visit: For more information, visit: www.energy.ca.gov or www.energy.ca.gov/releases/.

Source: California Energy Commission

For more information on: California Energy Commission