Coal plants cancelled in 2011

From Global Energy Monitor

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Plants cancelled, abandoned, or put on hold in 2011

In 2011, the following proposed coal plants were canceled, abandoned, or put on hold:

  • Purdue University Wade Utility Plant: On February 3, 2011, the Purdue University Board of Trustees voted to cancel the $53 million Wade Utility Plant expansion based on financial and regulatory concerns. According to vice president of physical facilities Bob McMains, the estimated increase in fuels costs along with expected future regulations for coal waste made the expansion unworkable. School officials plan to install a natural gas boiler rather than a coal boiler to replace the existing 50-year-old Boiler No. 1. a resolution in February 2011 canceling plans to add a new boiler.[1]
  • Somerset Power Generating Station: In Feb. 2011, NRG Energy withdrew an application to the state Department of Environmental Protection for approval to re-open the Somerset plant with what the company called a more "environmentally friendly" process: plasma gasification. The plant was shut down in January 2010 following a state mandate that it either switch to a clean energy production or stop operating. The future of the station was left in limbo by a state policy that bans plasma gasification, and lawsuits by the Conservation Law Foundation and others. NRG won approval in January 2008 to use a mix of 65 percent coal and 35 percent biomass. Massachusetts officials urged NRG to use only biomass, but then the state placed a moratorium on the use of biomass while studies were done to find the best longterm policy. NRG had more recently sought approval from the DEP to use a mix of construction and demolition material and wood in the plasma gasification process. The material would be heated up to about 10,000 degrees to break it down into basic components called synthetic gas, or syngas.[2] NRG is now evaluating what to do with the property, which could include selling it or using it for purposes other than a power plant, according to spokesman David Gaier. The Conservation Law Foundation, a group that fought approval for re-opening Somerset Station, said it will continue monitoring NRG and Somerset Station to ensure the site is being kept safe and that no toxins are being released while the plant is closed, and they vowed to work with residents and officials to find a viable use for the site.[2]
  • New Ulm Power Plant: On September 27, 2011, the New Ulm Public Utilities Commission (NUPUC) voted to rejected a plan to convert this gas-fired plant. The decision was applauded by project opponents including the Sierra Club, New Ulm Citizens for Clean Energy, and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. At a July meeting, the consulting firm Sargent & Lundy had presented an updated economic analysis of the project indicating that converting the plant to coal was no longer economically advisable.[3]
  • Ohio River Clean Fuels: This $5 billion plant would have produced diesel and jet fuel as well as electricity. The sponsors claimed that it would capture and sequester 85% of the CO2 created.[4] The Morning Journal described the proposed diesel production as being "mostly for use by the U.S. military."[5] In October 2011, Baard said it would use natural gas, rather than coal, as its feedstock for the Ohio River Clean Fuels Project. The switch was part of a negotiated settlement with the State of Ohio amidst legal challenges by NRDC and Sierra Club over Baard's pollution permits.[6]
  • Karn/Weadock Generating Complex Expansion: On December 2, 2011, Consumers Energy announced that is was cancelling the proposed 800 megawatt Karn/Weadock Generating Complex Expansion in Michigan because of "reduced customer demand for electricity due to the recession and slow economic recovery, surplus generating capacity in the Midwest market, and lower natural gas prices linked to expanded shale gas supplies." In addition, the company announced that it was suspending operations by the end of 2014 at seven existing generating units, included two units at the Whiting Generating Plant, two units at the Cobb Generating Plant, and two at the Karn Weadock Generating Complex. The company reported that it began construction in November 2011 of its first wind farm, the 100 MW Lake Winds Energy Park, in Mason County. Consumers Energy is also developing the 150 MW Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola County.[7]
  • Longleaf and Plum Point II: On December 12, 2011, the Sierra Club announced a legal agreement between LS Power and Sierra to cancel Longleaf, a 1200 MW proposed coal plant in Georgia, and Plum Point II, a 665 MW proposed coal plant in Arkansas. In addition, as part of the agreement, Sierra dropped its opposition to the Sandy Creek Plant in Texas and LS Power agreed to stricter air pollution controls at Sandy Creek. Sierra Club noted that Longleaf, which had first been proposed in 2001, was among the first coal plants among the hundreds of coal plants proposed -- and mostly defeated -- in the recent coal boom.[8]
  • Estill County Energy Partners: The Kentucky Division for Air Quality reported that the Estill County Energy Partners, the sponsor of a proposed 110 MW plant that would have generated power from waste coal, had gone out of business. [9]
  • Fuel Frontiers plant - Kentucky
  • Peabody/Arclight SNG Project - Illinois
  • MGP Ingredients - Illinois (50 MW)
  • Big Cajun I - Louisiana (230 MW)



  1. Eric Weddle, "Purdue pulls plug on new coal boiler," Journal & Courier, February 4, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Grant Welker, "Somerset Station owner abandons plan to revive the power plant" Fall River, Feb. 23, 2011.
  3. "New Ulm Says No to Coal," Sierra Club Northstar Chapter, September 28, 2011.
  4. Current Projects: Ohio River Clean Fuels, Baard Energy corporate website, accessed January 2008.
  5. Tom Giambroni, "Wastewater discharge hearing next hurdle for Baard plant", Morning Journal (Ohio), May 5, 2008.
  6. Brian Siu, "Liquid Coal: A Bad Bet" NRDC, Oct. 18, 2011.
  7. "Consumers Energy announces cancellation of proposed new coal plant, continued substantial investments in major coal units, anticipated suspension of operation of smaller units in 2015," Consumers Energy press release, December 2, 2011
  8. "Longleaf Cancellation Marks End to Nation's Longest Running Fight Against Coal Plant," Sierra Club press release, December 12, 2011
  9. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed December 2012. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)