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Energy/Clean Air:
Coal Burning Power Plants/Integrated Gasification IGCC

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: HB549/SB1202
Sponsor: Rep. Traviesa & Senator Bennett
Legislative Session: 2007

Governor signed the bill into law.

HB 0549 Relating to Power Plants/Integrated Gasification (Traviesa)
        ----- Signed by Officers and presented to Governor (Governor
        must act on this bill by 06/13/07)

5/3/07: Final passage and ordered enrolled. Only Representatives Sachs and Bucher spoke against the bill on 5/3/07. Too many members spoke in support of this legislation: Represenatives: Vana, Seiler, Sands, Cannon, Richardson, Aubuchon, Kriseman (at least he said that this technology did not capture carbon dioxide and that it is not sequestured either), McKeel, Peterson, Keller.

IGCC advanced cost recovery for a coal burning, carbon dioxide 
emitter power plant brought to you by Tampa Electric Company (TECO): while we 
opposed this bill from day one and still do, one bright light in this legislation is 
language from the Governor’s office that is in the legislative intent and power plant 
siting needs determination sections:
(4)  To assure the citizens of Florida that renewable
 energy sources and technologies, as well as conservation measures,
 are utilized to the extent reasonably available

4/28/07: The advanced cost recovery effort by TECO and their yet to be proven carbon dioxide capture and then sequestration technology is one step away from final passage.

TECO wants their rate payers to pay for the costs of the IGCC plant even though the technology isn't there to make it happen and it may never be there. And the bill gives them a guarantee that they don't loose money.  The amendment that Senator Bennett kept trying to bring up to have all coal plants get advanced coat recovery,  was finally withdrawn.
    The Senate took up HB549, late Thursday 4/26/07,  which had been in Senate messages, having been voted on by the House and sent to the Senate the other day, and Senator Bennett made a word change to some language (he changed the word “practicable to reasonably available”, requiring the bill to go back to the House for final passage and is now in returning House messages. The Governor’s Office placed some significant language in the bill that has legislative intent and pertains to the section of law for PSC.

Here is the intent language slightly modified by Senator Bennett: 
(4)  To assure the citizens of Florida that renewable

energy sources and technologies, as well as conservation

measures, are utilized to the extent reasonably available

 

403.519  Exclusive forum for determination of need.--

23         (3)  The commission shall be the sole forum for the

24  determination of this matter, which accordingly shall not be

25  raised in any other forum or in the review of proceedings in

26  such other forum. In making its determination, the commission

27  shall take into account the need for electric system

28  reliability and integrity, the need for adequate electricity

29  at a reasonable cost, the need for fuel diversity and supply

30  reliability, and whether the proposed plant is the most

31  cost-effective alternative available, and whether renewable                                energy sources and technologies, as well as conservation

 2  measures, are utilized to the extent reasonably available. T

 
April 27, 2007

Coal-gasification plant gets incentives

By Jim Ash
Florida Capital Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE -- Tampa Electric got a gift from the Legislature today when the Senate voted to let it charge customers up-front for a $1.5 billion, experimental coal power plant in Polk County.

The measure (HB-549) passed 39-0 without debate and is on its way to the governor.

It nearly stalled earlier in the week when lawmakers attached measures that would have also extended the same incentives for a $5.7 billion coal-fired plant that Florida Power & Light wants to build in tiny Glades County on the edge of the Everglades.

The FP&L provision was stripped out at the last minute. The bill was also sweetened for environmentalists with language that will force regulators to consider the use of renewable energy when determining whether there is a need for a new power plant.

The measure pit environmental groups against each other. One of the largest, Audubon of Florida, favors it.

The benefit offered for coal gasification mirrors the same incentives lawmakers gave nuclear power plants last year, in an effort to wean the state from its dependence on foreign oil.

Considered experimental, the coal gasification process involves grinding the coal to a fine powder and heating it to super-high temperatures. Industry experts say the technique greatly reduces harmful emissions associated with traditional coal burning, including mercury and acid rain.

The FP&L Glades Energy Center uses a pulverized coal process that is also cleaner than traditional coal but not as high-tech as gasification.

Climate change activists say the gasification technology promises to greatly reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.

But the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club opposed the measure, saying that coal still pollutes, particularly where it is mined. It also says customers should not be forced to pay ahead of time for a technology that is not proven.

Some environmentalists also say coal is not a wise alternative when Florida faces a large threat from global warming.

"This is Florida, we need to be mindful of the rising tide," said Joy Ezell, an environmental activist from Perry.


Status

5/29/07: HB 0549 Relating to Power Plants/Integrated Gasification (Traviesa)
        ----- Signed by Officers and presented to Governor (Governor
        must act on this bill by 06/13/07)

5/3/07: Final passage and ordered enrolled.

click here to see how your member voted:

House floor vote 4/23/07House floor vote 5/3/07

Senate floor vote 4/27/07

4/28/07: The Senate amended the House bill and returned HB549 to the House for acceptance and final passage.

4/21/07: The House bill HB549 was amended with some intent language on

4/19/07. There was excellent debate led by Representative Long, she led out the gate asking if the technology captured the carbon dioxide and Rep. Traviesa admitted (only once in an hour long debate) it DID NOT, nor did it sequesture the carbon. Representatives Sach, Bucher, and Randolph continued to ask a series of questions. It was an excellent debate. The bill then rolled over to third reading and will soon be voted on for final passage by the House. The Senate version was discussed in Committee on 4/17/07 and our lobbyist testified indicating that this technology does not capture the carbon dioxide nor is it known that it ever will, let alone sequesture the CO2. Senator Bennett stated that "everything Susie said is true..."  That was amazing. The Senate bill is now  Placed on Calendar for the Senate Floor, on 2nd reading -SJ 00439

 

4/14/07 The Senate bill will be heard in Senate Government appropriations Tuesday, 4/17/07. Contact Committee members and tell them to vote now.

3/9/07: As the IGCC bill moves thru the assigned committees and as you contact your legislator to educate them about the greenhouse gas emissions these plants will spew, they will counter you with their message that these plants are cleaner because they reduce NOx, SOx, and Mercury...remind them that GLOBAL HEATING is real, and that the top NASA Administrator announced it is time for a moratorium on ALL COAL POWERED ENERGY PLANTS.

SEE THE BACKGROUND INFO BELOW.

Action Needed

5/3/07: Final passage and ordered enrolled.

4/28/07: Contact House members and have them keep the language added by the Governors office on renewables and conservation measures. While we don't support the use of coal etc, the Governor's language is good.

4/21/07: contact the sponsors of this legislation and educate them as to NO COAL PLANT IS CLEAN COAL...up on House Floor for Final passage soon.

 

4/14/07:3/24/07: contact the sponsors of this legislation and educate them as to NO COAL PLANT IS CLEAN COAL... Contact your legislator in the House and Senate and tell them to VOTE NO on this bill when it comes to the Floor.


3/16/07: Passed out of House Council and Senate Env.Preservation on 3/14/07.


3/14/07 in the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee at 1:30 pm. and House Environment and Natural Resource Council


3/9/07: The Senate version will be heard on Wednesday,

3/9/07: We need for you to contact your legislator on the Senate Environmental Preservation Committee and tell them that COAL IS STILL DIRTY, there is no such thing as clean coal.

The following Legislators are sponsors of the bill: In the HOUSE we have: Traviesa CoSponsors: Aubuchon, Glorioso, Grimsley, Kendrick, Kreegel, Machek, Mayfield, McKeel, Murzin, Precourt, Seiler, Troutman, Weatherford, Williams, Brise

 

In the Senate we have: GENERAL BILL by Bennett; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Aronberg; Dockery; Lynn;  Fasano; Joyner

More information

To Learn more about SB1202 click here.

To Learn more about HB549 click here.

Energy: The Legislature has a responsibility to respond to Global Warming and our state’s dependence on  imported fuels.  Florida needs to wake up to Solar Energy and other renewables, and officials should increase the solar rebate for residences from $500 to $1000 and fund more public education promoting the rebates; we will advocate the continuation of the energy efficiency tax breaks.  We oppose new coal burning power plants including the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC). The IGCC’s still burn coal and release mercury and carbon. Since all Florida IGCC plants are still exempt from sequestration technology, the amount of mercury and carbon pollution cannot be tolerated. In this day of global heating and increased strength of hurricanes, we can no longer continue down the path of coal burners. Many of these coal plants on the line for Florida are in rural areas where there is presently sparse development and the only logical reason is the insatiable greed for sprawling new developments where Florida’s natural areas need preserving. Among various other issues, we would like to see more responsible planning,  weatherization of older and low income housing, for which we need to ensure that the building codes are up to par and strongly enforced.  

Contact

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR SENATOR

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR HOUSE MEMBER

 

 

Background

CALLING FOR A MORITORIUM ON COAL:

The ringleader of this uprising is James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world's top climate scientists. Last week he threw down the gauntlet: "There should be a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants," Hansen told the National Press Club.

Coal currently supplies nearly half the electricity in the U.S., and is responsible for more greenhouse-gas emissions than any other electricity source. The Department of Energy reported last month that 159 new coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be built in the U.S. in the coming decade, intended to generate enough juice for nearly 100 million homes.

"If you build a new coal plant, you're making a 60-year commitment -- that's how long these plants are generally in use," explains David Doniger, policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center. "So we really need to avoid building a whole new generation of coal plants that use the old technology."

Industry boosters tout the prospect of so-called "clean coal," but right now there is simply no such thing. Zero-carbon coal plants -- ones that will gasify coal, filter carbon dioxide from the vapor, then stow the CO2 underground -- are a long way off from commercial application. A handful of coal-gasification plants are in development, and could eventually be retrofitted with carbon-capture and -sequestration capabilities, but for now this pollution-storage technology is years away from even a working pilot phase.

"Until we have that clean coal power plant, we should not be building them," Hansen told his D.C. audience. "It is as clear as a bell."

Let's Call the Coal Thing Off

Coal-bashing is hot new trend in Congress, science circles, and business world

By Amanda Griscom Little
09 Mar 2007
Is King Coal about to be deposed?

Climate scientists, key members of Congress, enviros, and the progressive wing of the business world are plotting a coup d'état. Regime change isn't likely to come soon, but this resistance movement could significantly alter the way the pollution-spewing sovereign wields its power.

James Hansen
James Hansen.
Photo: Arnold Adle/NASA
The ringleader of this uprising is James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world's top climate scientists. Last week he threw down the gauntlet: "There should be a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants," Hansen told the National Press Club.

Coal currently supplies nearly half the electricity in the U.S., and is responsible for more greenhouse-gas emissions than any other electricity source. The Department of Energy reported last month that 159 new coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be built in the U.S. in the coming decade, intended to generate enough juice for nearly 100 million homes.

"If you build a new coal plant, you're making a 60-year commitment -- that's how long these plants are generally in use," explains David Doniger, policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center. "So we really need to avoid building a whole new generation of coal plants that use the old technology."

Industry boosters tout the prospect of so-called "clean coal," but right now there is simply no such thing. Zero-carbon coal plants -- ones that will gasify coal, filter carbon dioxide from the vapor, then stow the CO2 underground -- are a long way off from commercial application. A handful of coal-gasification plants are in development, and could eventually be retrofitted with carbon-capture and -sequestration capabilities, but for now this pollution-storage technology is years away from even a working pilot phase.

"Until we have that clean coal power plant, we should not be building them," Hansen told his D.C. audience. "It is as clear as a bell."

Is coal about to lose its crown?
Then the esteemed scientist raised even more eyebrows by declaring that, come mid-century, any old dinosaur coal plants that still aren't sequestering CO2 ought to be "bulldozed."

Industry reps are scoffing. "Some of Hansen's suggestions are absolutely ludicrous," energy lobbyist Frank Maisano told Muckraker. "There are fast-growing, rural areas of the country where coal is the only affordable option. Hansen's recommendations would put these areas at risk -- they're a recipe for disaster." Maisano added that the NASA top dog "may be a great scientist, but when it comes to energy policy, apparently he has a lot to learn."

Now You Policy It


And yet a growing number of policymakers are thinking along the same lines as Hansen.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is drafting a bill that would "prevent any plant from going forward that uses old [coal-fired] technology," said the senator's spokesperson Vincent Morris. Kerry, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Innovation, expects to introduce the bill in the coming weeks, after ironing out the details on performance standards for advanced-technology coal plants.

"Industry leaders know they are operating in a climate of uncertainty, and that is a very uncomfortable climate for them," Morris told Muckraker. "They need a clear path charted in terms of the expectations for advanced coal technology, and that's what Sen. Kerry is working on."

The most aggressive climate-change bill in the Senate -- the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, sponsored by Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) -- also includes a provision that would require all coal power plants built after 2012 to emit no more greenhouse gases than a combined-cycle gas turbine electric plant, a type of highly efficient natural-gas plant, by 2016. (A similar clean-as-a-CCGT-plant standard is already in effect in California.) By 2030, the Sanders-Boxer bill would require all power plants to be this clean no matter when they came online.

Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Photo: senate.gov
"What that means, effectively, is that you'd have to start phasing in the carbon-sequestration technology as of 2012," Sanders told Muckraker. "It would offer a big push to get this new technology ready for prime time."

Sanders shares Hansen's emphatic aversion to present-day coal technology: "These plants are destroying the planet! And on top of that they are spewing all kinds of crap that is causing asthma among our children."

It's hard to imagine a moratorium on conventional coal technology being signed into law any time soon, and yet these proposals still send an important signal. "They make investment in the more advanced coal technology look better to companies and investors because there's less of a regulatory risk," says Doniger.

Double, Double, Coal and Trouble


Even without congressional action, coal's been having a rough go of it of late.

For months, concerned citizens and enviros had been protesting plans by giant Texas utility TXU to build 11 old-style coal-fired power plants in the state. Then, in late February, a handful of private investors proposed buying out TXU for a record-breaking $45 billion, and struck a truce that headed off a lawsuit by Environmental Defense and other green groups by agreeing to cut the number of new coal plants down to three. More surprising, these private entities, which include Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Texas Pacific Group, vowed to support a mandatory national cap on greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as to have TXU invest $400 million in conservation and energy-efficiency programs over the next five years.

Last week, the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission rejected one of two major coal generators proposed by Duke Energy -- which, strangely enough, has been on the frontlines of the call for federal climate caps. In exchange for permission to build the one plant, the commission said Duke would have to retire four aging coal units and plow 1 percent of its annual retail revenue -- about $50 million -- into energy-efficiency programs. Duke is now reassessing its plans.

Some environmentalists are bristling over both the TXU and Duke deals, saying that even one new coal plant is too many, and, in the case of the TXU arrangement, that Environmental Defense and NRDC, which also took part in the negotiations, gave up too much for too little. Still, these concessions show that the utility industry is significantly rethinking its relationship to an increasingly embattled energy source -- and taking ever more seriously the counsel of environmentalists.

Last week, CNNMoney.com characterized the negotiations between enviros and TXU's prospective buyers as "the latest sign of how the green lobby is increasingly shaping the agenda on Wall Street."

Said Sanders, "For a long time, industry argued that if we take aggressive action on climate change, it could have negative economic impact. But now the reality is that if we do not take aggressive action, the economic impacts of global warming will far surpass those [industry] feared would come as a result of regulations."

Moreover, argues Sanders, innovations like coal gasification and sequestration technology have the potential to "reestablish the United States' leadership position in the global economy." India and China are adding roughly one major coal-fired power plant every week, so, he says, "It would be a huge boon for us, ethically and economically, to be able to meet that kind of demand with coal plants that are clean."

The fight to set tougher fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks has gotten the lion's share of attention in D.C. discussions of climate policy, but the quest to establish ambitious coal-plant performance standards deserves as much visibility and vigor -- for the sake of the U.S. economy as well as the global climate.



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