Community Corner Archive
Illinois regulators approve FutureGen power purchase agreement
The State of Illinois has a goal to purchase 25 percent of its electricity from clean coal electricity with carbon capture and storage. On December 19, 2012, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved the terms of a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the FutureGen 2.0 project. The agreement requires the state’s electric utilities (ComEd and Ameren Illinois), as well as the alternative retail electric suppliers (ARES), to purchase electricity from FutureGen 2.0 for 20 years.
The ICC’s approval is strong both with respect to protecting Illinois ratepayers and providing the necessary cost recovery mechanism for FutureGen’s electricity. The Alliance recognizes that the ICC was faced with a complex matter and appreciates the extensive amount of time the ICC commissioners and staff put into the effort. It is a clear demonstration of Illinois’ leadership on clean coal technology.
Deal signed for purchase of the Meredosia power plant
In late 2011, the Meredosia Energy Center (MEC) closed its doors. At the time, Ameren Energy Resources pledged to work with the Alliance to make portions of the MEC available to the FutureGen 2.0 project. Ameren Energy Resources fulfilled that pledge when a contract was executed for the sale of a portion of the MEC to the Alliance in January 2013. Under the agreement, Ameren Energy Resources will continue maintenance at the energy center to keep it in a condition suitable for future retrofitting. In 2014, immediately prior to the start of construction and when all conditions are met, ownership of the pertinent part of MEC will formally transfer to the Alliance.
On February 5th, recognizing the successful approval of the PPA’s terms and other progress on the project, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) approved the start of Phase 2 of FutureGen 2.0. Phase 2 will include the final permitting and design activities that precede a decision to start construction. Phase 2 will run through early Summer 2014. Also included in this phase of work is DOE’s completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A draft EIS is expected to be released by DOE this Spring with a public meeting to discuss the project following soon after.
Pipeline route unveiled
In late February, the Alliance unveiled the proposed route for the FutureGen 2.0 pipeline. The pipeline will safely transport CO2 from the Meredosia Energy Center to the storage site near Ashland. All landowners affected by the pipeline have been notified by certified mail and invited to meetings to discuss the pipeline. For landowners who were unable to attend the meetings, other opportunities to learn about the pipeline are being provided. In general, there are more than 4,500 miles of CO2 pipelines in the U.S. and they have an exceptional safety record.
Pipeline key facts:
- The pipeline will be approximately 30 miles long and less than 12 inches in diameter.
- The FutureGen Alliance will own the pipeline.
- The FutureGen Alliance has signed an agreement with the Illinois Department of Agriculture that is designed to mitigate the agricultural impacts associated with the pipeline
- Affected landowners will be compensated if the pipeline crosses their property and/or temporarily affects crop production.
- On farmland, the pipeline will be buried at least 5 feet deep to allow farming activity to continue above the pipeline once construction is completed.
- The FutureGen Alliance will be applying to the ICC for approval to construct and operate the pipeline.
- The pipeline will be designed to meet or exceed all applicable federal and state regulatory requirements.
- The transported CO2 is cleaner than what would normally be released into the atmosphere. At the purity levels and pressures that the CO2 is transported, it is non-corrosive and not flammable.
Alliance staff will be available to answer questions or address concerns. Questions or concerns can be emailed to email@example.com, or call (217) 243-8427.
Next phase of geologic characterization completed at CO2 storage site
Characterization of the storage site geology began in Phase 1 of the project. The findings were very positive. During Phase 2 of the project, additional characterization work has occurred to further confirm the integrity of the site and provide additional data to support final design.
One of geologic characterization techniques that has been used is called a vertical seismic profiling (VSP). VSP involves temporarily placing a long string of microphones (called geophones) down into the previously drilled characterization well. Next, a large truck with a vibrating plate on the bottom (called a vibroseis or “thumper” truck) vibrates its plate against the ground near the characterization well. The vibrating plate creates soundwaves that travel through the earth. The soundwaves are measured and collected by the geophones. Based on the information gathered it will become possible to draw a picture of the storage site’s geology.
Depending on whether you are standing on bedrock or soil, you may have to get within 50 feet of a thumper truck to feel the vibrations. The Alliance added additional buffer space by instructing the VSP contractor to stay 300 feet away from any building, man-made structure or known water well. Additional equipment that was used included a truck to record the data and a crane to lower the geophones into the characterization well. This activity took about two days to complete in late-March.
Weather station data now available live
The Beilschmidt Weather Station is live on the FutureGen Alliance website and available to the local farm community. As reported in the August edition of Community Corner, the FutureGen project installed the weather station along Beilschmidt Road to collect soil moisture, soil temperature, precipitation, air temperature, solar radiation, humidity, wind speed and direction and atmospheric CO2 levels.
U.S. Department of Energy continues review of the Alliance’s request to proceed with the next project phase
The FutureGen 2.0 project has four phases: (1) preliminary design; (2) permitting and final design; (3) construction; and (4) operations. Having completed the first phase, the Alliance has submitted the necessary documentation to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for it to determine whether the project is ready to proceed to the next phase. DOE’s review looks at many aspects of the project from technical to environment to safety to financial. Given the complexity of the project, this DOE review is now expected to take until the end of December 2012. Soon after the approval, the Alliance will initiate Phase II of the project, including announcing the pipeline route.
Update on CO2 storage site design
Data gathered directly from the geologic characterization well, in addition to post-drilling laboratory test results have helped optimize the storage site design for FutureGen 2.0. The updated design will allow CO2 from the Meredosia Energy Center to be injected at a lower pressure that originally planned. This will add further to the storage site’s performance and safety. Upon DOE’s approval of the project’s second phase, the Alliance will document the design in a permit application that will be submitted to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region V for review and approval.
Illinois Commerce Commission considers FutureGen power purchase agreement
While the CO2 storage portion of the project receives most of the public attention, important work is also progressing on the revitalization of the Meredosia Energy Center. Some of this work relates to engineering, but important contractual arrangements are also being made. One of these important contractual arrangements is the power purchase agreement (PPA). A PPA is a long-term electricity sales contract between an electricity producer (the FutureGen power plant) and the Illinois companies that supply electricity to customers across the state of Illinois. PPAs are common; they represent the operating revenue stream for a power plant, and thus are essential to secure the “mortgage” on the power plant.
FutureGen 2.0 is eligible for a PPA under the Illinois Clean Coal Portfolio Standard, which is part of the Illinois Power Agency Act. The Act caps the cumulative impact of clean coal projects on electricity purchasers across the state at 2.015%. There is a similarly sized cap on renewable electricity (i.e., wind and solar). The impact of FutureGen’s electricity cost on ratepayers is expected to fall well below the statutory cap. Electricity consumers who purchase their power from rural electric cooperatives are unaffected.
FutureGen 2.0’s PPA is currently part of a docketed proceeding before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). It is expected that the ICC will rule on the PPA before the end of 2012. The ICC’s review primarily focuses on economic aspects of the project, as well as Illinois’ need for additional clean power.
The Alliance expects that the DOE will wait for the ICC ruling before they make a final determination on a Phase II start.
Teachers’ workshop on carbon capture and sequestration
On October 22nd, a workshop for local science teachers on carbon capture utilization and storage was held (CCUS) at MacMurray College. The workshop, conducted by the National Energy Education Development Project and sponsored by the DOE, is part of a national effort to increase the level of scientific understanding of CCS. Teachers from several junior and high schools attended. Tyler Gilmore, FutureGen 2.0’s chief geologist, gave a guest presentation to the teachers on the findings from the geologic characterization well.
FutureGen Alliance affirms Morgan County as storage site, local citizens gain experience working with groundbreaking technology
Recent geologic testing and engineering studies at the proposed Morgan County CO2 storage site continue to point to its quality as an excellent location for CO2 storage. As a result, the FutureGen Alliance announced in July that Morgan County will remain the preferred storage location and alternate sites in Christian and Douglas Counties will no longer be maintained.
Since the initial selection of Morgan County in February 2011, the Alliance has tested the geologic conditions at the proposed storage site. Tests have found that the site is geologically stable, has a regionally extensive primary caprock formation and secondary caprock formations and has a reservoir capacity sufficient to permanently store the CO2 that will be generated by the FutureGen 2.0 project.
Additionally, the Alliance has acquired the underground pore space necessary for the proposed Morgan County storage site. Desktop and field environmental studies have also been conducted to confirm the absence of any sensitive environmental resources that could be adversely affected by the project.
Affirming Morgan County as the preferred site for FutureGen 2.0 is a significant milestone for the project. This decision allows the Alliance to proceed with final permitting for the storage site. Overall, the Morgan County community has been extremely welcoming. The Alliance recognizes that some citizens have remaining concerns, but expects that increasing the frequency of communication and allowing the independent environmental impact statement process to reach a conclusion will address most concerns. As a result, the Alliance continues to be excited to continue its partnership with the community and move FutureGen 2.0 forward.
Illinois College community members gain experience from FutureGen 2.0
Two members from the Morgan County community had the opportunity to work with project scientists over the summer: Dr. Deborah Beal, Environmental Biology Professor & Coordinator at Illinois College and Angie Martin, a rising senior also at Illinois College.
The two worked with scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is under contract to the FutureGen Alliance as part of the storage site design and monitoring effort. Dr. Beal and Ms. Martin worked on environmental monitoring that will provide a set of baseline data for the FutureGen 2.0 project. As one example of baseline data, the team is using satellite imagery to measure how green the vegetation is in the area, including crops. Once these factors are determined, the Alliance will be equipped to monitor and study environmental factors throughout the project.
When asked about the opportunity Dr. Beal stated:
“This has been a great opportunity for Illinois College to be tied into a national laboratory project, giving us access to equipment and software that we are fairly limited to otherwise. There’s nothing locally that compares to working with a national lab. I have had access to high technology, geographical systems and mapping that we don’t have at my home college. This internship has also created an opportunity for me, and for my students, to make connections with other scientists. The expertise of the individuals I have met here has let me learn new techniques, which will translate back into my classroom. Since this is a long term project, students who participate could be directly involved in a long standing scientific undertaking, helping them recognize the value of science. It has been a great experience for both Angie and me.”
Both internships were funded by DOE. Angie’s internship was funded by DOE’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) and Professor Beal’s appointment was funded under the DOE’s Visiting Faculty Program (VFP), which seeks to increase the research competitiveness of faculty members and their students through a 10-week assignment at a DOE research laboratory.
To assist the community in tracking FutureGen 2.0’s progress, the following project schedule is being provided. Should changes occur, the schedule will be routinely updated on the Alliance website at www.FutureGenAlliance.org. If you have a question about the project, please check our Frequently Asked Questions on the Alliance website. Alternatively, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond as quickly as possible.
FutureGen 2.0 Progress and Key Milestones
|1.||Sept 2010:||Phase 1 start (Preliminary Design)|
|2.||Jun 2011:||NEPA (Environmental Impact Statement) start|
|3.||Jan 2012:||Air permit application submitted, electricity grid interconnection application submitted|
|4.||Feb 2012:||Draft power purchase agreement (PPA) submitted|
|5.||Spring 2012:||Phase 1 design and cost estimate complete|
|6.||Summer 2012:||CO2 storage permit application due|
|7.||Sept 2012:||Illinois Power Agency includes power purchase agreement (PPA) in electricity procurement plan|
|8.||Fall 2012:||Phase 2 start (Advanced Design)|
|9.||Dec 2012:||Illinois Commerce Commission rulemaking on PPA|
|10.||Summer 2013:||Investment-grade PPA signed with Illinois utilities and retail electricity suppliers|
|11.||Summer 2013:||NEPA Record of Decision (follows Final Environment Impact Statement)|
|12.||Winter 2013:||All permits secured, financial closing|
|13.||Summer 2014:||Phase 3 start (Construction)|
|14.||Sept 2015:||ARRA-funded (federal stimulus funded) activities complete|
|15.||Fall 2017:||Electricity generation begins|
|16.||Fall 2017:||CO2 storage begins|
|17.||Winter 2017:||Full commercial operations|
June 15, 2012
While field work at the FutureGen geologic characterization well wrapped up in December, a buzz of activity continues in multiple scientific laboratories studying the rocks and field test results to confirm the geologic integrity of the proposed CO2 storage site.
In early May, FutureGen Alliance CEO Ken Humphreys and lead geologist Dr. Tyler Gilmore had an opportunity to share the initial characterization results with the FutureGen Citizens’ Board at a meeting in Jacksonville. The purpose of the Citizens’ Board is to provide one of several mechanisms to share information about the project with the community and receive questions and input from the community.
Tyler Gilmore reported that the well drilling was finished in mid-December and noted that it is one of the deepest wells ever drilled in Morgan County. The deep rock formations were tested in January and February to determine their suitability for storing the CO2. The intended geologic formation, the Mt. Simon Sandstone, which will act as the CO2 storage reservoir is between 3800 and 4500 feet below the land surface. Above the storage reservoir is an overlying cap rock that is about 400 feet thick, which aids in containment of the CO2.
Geologic characterization tests were conducted to understand the porosity of the rock. Porosity is a measure of the void space between the sand grains in the rock. The tests also examined the reservoir’s permeability, which is a measure of how well these void spaces are connected together. This allows the geologists to determine how the CO2 will move into the pore space and be stored in the rock. Additionally, the impermeability of the overlying Eau Clare cap rock was evaluated for its ability to hold the CO2 in place. Finally, the team conducted hydrologic testing, which included extracting the naturally occurring saline water from the formation, then re-injecting that same water and measuring the response of the rock formations. This testing is a good way to understand how the formation will respond when CO2 is injected into the formation. The results from all the testing were positive and the site would make a good CO2 reservoir. The characterization well will be used as a monitoring well in future phases of the project.
The Alliance is close to completing the signing on options to buy subsurface storage rights from local landowners. Preliminary geologic and legal analysis suggests that the Alliance has sufficient rights; however, the Alliance hopes to acquire subsurface storage rights for a few additional parcels as it would provide storage site design flexibility and assist in locating injection and monitoring wells in the most unobtrusive locations.
Meredosia power plant
Discussions with Ameren regarding the purchase of the necessary components of the Meredosia Energy Center have proceeded very favorably. Ameren continues to support FutureGen 2.0 by maintaining the plant in a retrofit-ready condition. A public announcement on the final purchase arrangements for the plant is expected this summer.
Pipeline route to be announced
The Alliance plans to finalize the proposed pipeline route early this summer. Once the route is known, the law requires that an official letter be sent to all landowners along the pipeline. The letter will describe the process of evaluating landowners’ land and compensating them appropriately. The compensation will be comparable to that offered on another, recent pipeline project that passed through the county. By law, the Alliance cannot contact landowners along the route prior to this official letter. However, after that time the Alliance is committed to communicating with the Morgan County community about pipeline activities, and Alliance public involvement staff will be available to talk with landowners, take questions and make sure they receive accurate and timely answers.
Weather station installed
A weather station was installed near Beilschmidt road. The weather station will provide baseline measurements of weather parameters near the proposed storage site. Measurements taken at the site will include levels of naturally occurring CO2, wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, solar radiation, precipitation, barometric pressure and soil moisture and temperature. In the near future, the weather station will feed data directly to the FutureGen website so that farmers and other interested people can have an additional source for up-to-date information on the local weather, including soil moisture and soil temperature.
November 7, 2011
Characterization Well Drilling Progress
Significant progress has been made in drilling the geologic characterization well in Morgan County. The well will not only benefit the FutureGen 2.0 project, but will also add to the scientific understanding of the Illinois geology. After completion and quality assurance, the results of the drilling effort will be shared with the Illinois State Geologic Survey and the public.
Drilling began on October 5. Initially, a 30-inch bit was used to drill down to the bedrock. At this depth a 24-inch steel casing was cemented into the hole. This initial casing isolates all drilling and testing from the surface geology, thereby protecting the surface geology and any shallow groundwater. Drilling then proceeded with a smaller bit to a depth of about 570 feet. At that point, a 16-inch steel casing was cemented into the hole. This second casing runs all the way to the surface and provides a second level of environmental protection and stabilized the wellbore.
The drill team is now using a 14-3/4 bit and as of November 1, at 7:00 AM, the drill bit reached 2,718 feet. Drilling speed varies, depending on the hardness of the rock formation at a particular depth. Currently, around 100 feet of rock is being drilled through each day. Intermittently, drilling pauses for various geologic tests, changing drill bits, or other engineering activities. The team predicts that the target geologic formation—the Mount Simon sandstone—will be reached in December. To date, the drilling rate has been right on schedule. The final borehole depth is estimated to be around 5,100 feet. A core sample of several of the formations will be extracted to verify the suitability of the rock to store CO2. No actual injection of CO2 will occur in this borehole as it is only for geologic characterization.
The team wants to confirm the physical properties, including the thicknesses and the porosity, of the different rock formations. It is important to the success of the project to have an impermeable rock layer—often a shale referred to as the caprock—above the target storage formation. This caprock is needed to ensure that the CO2, which is ultimately injected into sandstone called the Mount Simon, is retained in that formation. The cap rock—called the Eau Claire—will also be sampled. These properties, as well as a number of others, will be characterized as part of the drilling operation.
October 3, 2011
Drilling equipment mobilized following completion of characterization well pad
Construction of the characterization well pad at the FutureGen 2.0 storage site in Morgan County has been completed. Drilling equipment will be mobilized to the site the week of October 3 and drilling will begin shortly thereafter. The purpose of the well is to thoroughly characterize the full column of rock, including the Mount Simon sandstone, which is the target formation for CO2 storage. No CO2 will be injected in this well now or in the future.
During construction of the well pad by local union contractor UCM, steps were taken to ensure that the environment is protected. As built, the well pad is surrounded by a berm on three sides that has drainage and erosion controls to ensure that storm water is properly managed. These controls include covering the berms with topsoil and planting grass seed and placing erosion control blankets on slopes, berms, and ditches around the well pad. In addition, a reserve pit has been dug and lined with a rubber liner to contain any excess fluids generated during drilling. Alliance contractor, Patrick Engineering Inc. of Springfield, Ill, conducted testing and quality assurance. All construction activities were performed smoothly with no unforeseen difficulties.
When mobilization of the drilling rig begins, approximately twenty semi-truck loads will be required to move it to the site. Major drilling equipment components will include the drilling rig, a fuel tank, water tanks, pumps for circulating drilling mud, steel pits (tanks) for mud cleaning (i.e., solids settling) and mixing the drilling mud, pipe racks for holding drilling pipe, and a generator/light plant. In addition, two temporary office trailers will be installed at the site.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas, has approved the Alliance’s permit for drilling. The characterization well will be approximately 5,100 feet deep and drilling is expected to take about 90 days, followed by approximately 3 to 4 weeks of additional on-site characterization activities. Once initiated, drilling will generally occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the site design, the berms and temporary trailers are arranged as noise barriers between the site and local residents to minimize potential noise impacts.
After drilling is completed, a wellhead will be installed and the equipment will be removed. The wellhead will allow access to the wellbore for future geologic monitoring. A portion of the gravel pad surrounding the characterization well and an access road will remain for long-term access. The remainder of the site will be restored to its original condition unless the landowners request certain improvements remain (e.g., drainage systems or portions of the gravel pad that might be suitable for hosting various farm facilities).
Part of ensuring public and worker safety is to control site access during drilling. For those interested in visiting the site, please send an email to email@example.com and a tour will be arranged on a case-by-case basis at a prescheduled time.
August 15, 2011
Work progressing on geologic characterization well pad
Union contractor, UCM is making quick progress in the construction of a drilling pad. The pad will be for the characterization well at the site in Morgan County. The drilling pad is made of compacted gravel and is 300 feet by 350 feet. The farm road leading to the site has been upgraded substantially to allow for safe truck travel. To construct the pad, an area was cleared by removing and reserving the top soil for ultimate site restoration. The reserved soil has been formed into a berm to decrease noise levels to the surrounding area during drilling. After drilling and installation of the wellhead and casing, the size of the pad will be reduced by removing some of the gravel and replacing the topsoil. In addition to serving as a geologic characterization well in the short-term, the well may serve as a monitoring well for decades to come.
The Alliance anticipates that site preparations will be completed the week of August 15. Immediately thereafter, a small drill owned by the Illinois State Geological Survey will be onsite for several days to drill a shallow characterization and groundwater monitoring well. Shortly thereafter, the larger drilling rig for the deep geologic characterization well will arrive onsite. The characterization well will extend to the full depth of the Mount Simon formation and about 150 below into the underlying granite. The total depth will be nearly a mile below the earth’s surface. The purpose of the characterization well is to thoroughly evaluate the full column of rock, including the caprock overlying the Mount Simon, to confirm that the area is an excellent match for CO2 storage. The geologic characterization well drilling and installation effort is expected to take about 3 months to complete. No CO2 will be injected into the well now or in the future. It is for characterization and monitoring only.
FutureGen Citizens’ Board meets to discuss ideas for visitor, research and training facilities
On August 9, the FutureGen Citizens’ Board met in Jacksonville. The focus was on identifying functional requirements for the visitor, research and training facilities.
The Alliance presented information on the budget, scope, and operating model of similar facilities in the region, the U.S., and the world to help stir the discussion. Board members provided excellent input on the potential functions of the planned facilities. They were asked to identify three to five functions that they would like considered in the final design of the facilities. For each suggested function, board members are identifying the audience that would benefit from the function, the partners needed to make sure the function can be successfully implemented, and the funding model for helping to cover operational costs.
If anyone in the community has ideas that they want to make sure are considered in the design of the facilities, please contact anyone on the board and share your thoughts so that they may be included or email the Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 25, 2011
Construction work begins to prepare for drilling geologic characterization well
United Contractors Midwest (UCM) Inc. has begun road upgrades in the Beilschmidt Road area in preparation for drilling a geologic characterization well later this summer. These road upgrades will also benefit neighbors who live in the area. UCM won the contract in a competition between three construction firms located in Morgan and Sangamon counties. Consistent with the Alliance’s commitment to union labor, UCM will staff the construction project with union labor.
Construction work will include:
- Building pullouts on Beilschmidt Road so that vehicles can more safely pass each other;
- Upgrading a private farm road that will connect Beilschmidt Road to the characterization well site;
- Removing and storing top soil at the characterization well site, so that after drilling is complete and the drilling equipment is gone, much of the top soil can be replaced and the ground can be returned to productive farm land;
- Building a gravel pad at the characterization well site where the well will be drilled.
The Alliance also signed a repair and maintenance agreement with the Morgan County Road District. This assures that if any of the FutureGen’s heavy trucks damage any county roads in the area (e.g., inadvertently create potholes) the FutureGen project will pay to return them to equal or better condition.
The Alliance has also finalized a contract for the drilling work with Les Wilson, Inc., an Illinois drilling company, that won the competition to drill the well. Les Wilson is one of very few drillers in the region with the qualifications and equipment to drill the type of very deep well that is required. Drilling is expected to begin by mid-August. The well will be used to study the geology nearly a mile deep underground. It will only be used for scientific study and no CO2 will be injected into the well. Data collected from this well will increase our understanding of the underlying geology and help further validate that the proposed storage site is good for long-term storage of CO2.
July 11, 2011
Alliance Seeking Input on FutureGen 2.0 Visitor, Research and Training Facilities
The FutureGen Citizens’ Board will host a teleconference this week to start a discussion about functional requirements desired by the community for the visitor, research, and training facilities to be built by the Alliance in support of the FutureGen 2.0 project. In-person meetings with the Board and with other interested stakeholders will be scheduled for August. At these meetings, the Board will seek citizens’ views on what factors they want to see considered in the function and design. One of the big questions is whether the community would want new construction or rehabilitation of existing building(s). Above all, the Alliance wants to ensure that any facilities built are sustainable and that the mission/vision and operating principles of these facilities includes community input.
This is a long-term partnership that the Alliance will have in the community and it wants to have an open, upfront discussion as to the broad community’s vision and interests. Citizens who would like to have their ideas considered on this subject are asked to please contact the Alliance directly by sending an email to email@example.com or by contacting one of the members on the Citizens’ Board – the list of members is provided on this website. We will make sure that your ideas are considered.
June 20, 2011
DOE Scoping Meeting Turnout
On June 9th, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted its Morgan County scoping meeting associated with its environmental review of sites for FutureGen 2.0.
At an informal open house held between 5:00-7:00 p.m., DOE, Ameren, the FutureGen Alliance, and the Illinois State Geological Survey presented posters, videos, and hands-on displays to describe different aspects of the project and answered questions from the citizens who attended. The formal meeting began at 7:00 p.m. with presentations from the various entities representing the project. Alliance CEO Ken Humphreys stressed that the purpose of this first round of public meetings was to hear stakeholders’ issues and concerns because “we can’t address concerns unless they are raised.” Several citizens expressed their views regarding the project and raised issues that they felt need to be considered during the environmental review process.
DOE is compiling all of the comments and others that may be submitted during the public comment period which ends on June 22, 2011, and will place a report on their website in the next few weeks. DOE plans to host its next public meetings in the spring of 2012 following the release of its draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Environmental Educational Opportunities
The FutureGen Alliance is developing its Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting (MVA) plan, which will to include the activities and systems that will be used to study and monitor the injected CO2 for the life of the project. The plan will also include opportunities to engage local schools and colleges to participate in monitoring activities. Near-term monitoring activities planned by the Alliance will determine the existing environmental conditions. These include monitoring for:
- Groundwater conditions
- Ecological conditions – surveying wetlands, surface water, and natural vegetation
- Atmospheric conditions
- Soil gas and naturally produced CO2
- Remote sensing – spectral analysis of forest canopy and crop density
- Crop productivity
The Alliance plans to work through the FutureGen Citizens’ Board, on which several senior educators serve, to identify specific mechanisms to involve faculty and students in this work. Funding will be allocated for this effort. Depending on interest, faculty and students could be involved in the project on a long-term basis in helping to collect and analyze the environmental data.