CWLP in the running for $40M federal project

CWLP in the running for$40M federal project

Springfield’s CWLP power plant is in the running to get $40 million from the feds.

"We really want to win this and we think it'll be beneficial for the city and the state of Illinois," Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Director Kevin O'Brien said.

CWLP's Dallman Unit 4 power plant is one of nine sites in the running for a pilot project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The city-owned utility teamed up with the University of Illinois on the project.

Kevin O'Brien, director of Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, said they're hoping to test out a new way of storing carbon gas emissions produced at coal-fired power plants.

"We want to demonstrate that, not only can this CO2 be captured, but also that it can be done in a very economic fashion," O'Brien said.

Springfield's economy could benefit if they're awarded the project.

O'Brien said they plan to use local labor to build the new facility.

They also anticipate scientists from around the world will visit to see the unique technology.

"So amongst other things, hopefully you have a situation where a lot of the hotels and restaurants within the Springfield area will be kept very, very busy as we get a number of visitors coming in," O'Brien said.

If the technology ends up not working as planned, O'Brien said it won't cost ratepayers anything.

"We have built into the project that the project will cover the cost of taking down the unit and returning the site back to the way it was," O'Brien said.

In fact, CWLP said at no point will the project cost ratepayers.

"We were pretty excited to hear the terms that it's not going to cost our customers any money," CWLP Chief Utility Engineer Doug Brown said.

Since this pilot project is solely meant to prove that the carbon capture technology works efficiently and effectively, the captured gas won't be stored.

"They're just going to pipe it right back to our smoke stacks," Brown said. "It'd get released as if they didn't capture it."

But, if successful, future studies could pop up to explore what the captured carbon could be used for.

"With coal-fired power plants, this is a way to take a look at, can you capture the carbon and put it in a more useful manner than polluting the air and making a usable byproduct," Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said.

Down the road, scientists hope to re-purpose that captured carbon dioxide gas to produce a variety of things, such producing fertilizer or algae that can be turned into biofuel.

There have several steps to go, but if CWLP and U of I win the grant, they anticipate construction would start in December of 2021.

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