July 26, 2006
FutureGen won’t be built in Ohio
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON A state bid to put an innovative $1 billion
coal-burning power plant in Tuscarawas County failed to make it
to the finalist stage because of weaknesses and uncertainties at
the site, organizers of the nationwide competition said. Ohio
officials learned Tuesday that both of its proposals — the one
in Tuscarawas County and another in Meigs County — were among
eight across the country that lost out.
The FutureGen Alliance, which plans to build the world’s first
near-zero emissions plant, chose four sites in Mattoon and
Tuscola, Ill., and Jewett and Odessa, Texas, as finalists.
FutureGen officials said those sites shared advantages such as
plentiful land, proximity to electrical transmission lines, and
thick sandstone for the storage of wastes generated by energy
During the next year, the four will compete for the grand prize
— selection as the location for a model coal-burning plant that
is scheduled to open in 2012 and would release virtually no
greenhouse gases or pollutants.
Ohio officials questioned the alliance’s initial report on
Tuscarawas County, which they said seemed to contradict experts
who prepared the state’s proposals. The report said the Meigs
County bid failed to meet basic criteria, while the Tuscarawas
site “apparently received relatively low scores in several
categories,” according to Mark R. Shanahan, executive director
of the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority.
The alliance sent Shanahan two brief reports explaining why the
sites didn’t make the cut.
Shanahan said the explanation raises questions that he hopes to
get answered through further discussions with the alliance.
The alliance is a nonprofit organization made up of some of the
world’s leading energy companies, including American Electric
Power, based in Columbus, Ohio. The alliance is partnering with
the U.S. Department of Energy to design and build the facility.
One criticism of the Tuscarawas County proposal in the report is
the “very large number of residences” — 10,000 to 20,000 — above
the area where the state proposed locating underground storage
for carbon dioxide the plant will generate. The report, signed
by Mike Mudd, chief executive officer of the FutureGen Alliance,
said it would be difficult to construct a power plant at the
site “given its configuration and topography.”
Shanahan took issue with that complaint. He said WorleyParsons,
the engineering firm the state hired to author the proposals,
“didn’t think it was an obstacle.”
“It seems that our WorleyParsons team evaluated the criteria in
question differently than the FutureGen Industrial Alliance,” he
The alliance also said the site had inadequate access to water
for power plant operation.
Shanahan said the engineering firm determined sufficient water
could be pulled from either the Muskingum River or wells.
The report also questioned whether the site had the type of
geologic formation needed to store carbon dioxide. Even if the
proposed storage area were adequate, it would be near the
Gnadenhutten Historic Park, another mark against it, the
The site received low scores for its proximity to sensitive
areas, distance to electrical transmission lines and ability to
meet other requirements.
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Heath, whose congressional district includes the
Tuscarawas site, said he was “extremely disappointed” that it
did not make the cut. But he said he looked forward to
“continuing to work with local officials to take what they’ve
done and put it towards pursuing other opportunities.”
Shanahan said the state spent $750,000 preparing the proposals,
which also benefited from local government efforts provided
Insisting that the money and effort were not wasted, he said
they put the state in a better position to profit from new
“We think we have some sites that are just tremendous for future
energy development,” he said.
FutureGen officials said many of the competing sites that failed
to meet the “stringent” standards for the initial experimental
plant might qualify for similar minimal-emission plants in the
Ohio also would benefit because it is a leading coal producer
and user, and the FutureGen plant will be designed to burn both
Eastern and Western types of coal.
Mudd insisted politics played no part in the decision, which he
said was based on an evaluation using almost 100 technical