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Carbon Capture Firms Pursue Power Plant Set To Retire, Though Doubt Remains

Dave Johnston Plant
Greg Goebel via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Several companies interested in making money through carbon capture are taking steps to set up shop at the Dave Johnston Power Plant in Glenrock, Wyoming.

The two currently known are Jupiter Oxygen and Glenrock Petroleum, though Pacificorp, which owns the plant, said there are others.

Jupiter Oxygen has completed its feasibility study and is in the process of developing a front-end engineering and design study for carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) looking at one of Dave Johnston's four units. Both steps are considered preliminary.

Glenrock Petroleum has expressed interest publicly in purchasing the plant and in equipping its largest power-producing unit with CCUS technology. The company is currently working on its own feasibility study, according to the plant owner.

Pacificorp's 922 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in eastern Wyoming is set for retirement in 2027. It currently burns coal from three Wyoming coal mines. Pacificorp has yet to decide if it will implement CCUS technology at all; that will depend on the outcome of its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan.

Shannon Anderson, staff attorney at the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a landowners group, worries what carbon capture could mean for utility customers.

"Any carbon capture technology is expensive and would make the coal plant more costly and less efficient. That's not a good thing for utility customers who need reliable and low-cost power," she said.

Anderson said elected officials need to decide between unproven carbon capture technology and readily available low-cost renewable energy.

Randall Luthi, chief energy advisor in Gov. Mark Gordon's office, said his office is extremely supportive of carbon dioxide capture facilities and it's their goal that the next project will be built in Wyoming.

Global CCS Institute, a think-tank devoted to deploying more carbon capture, says the tech is important to achieving climate change targets, yet says the tech just isn't there yet in terms of being able to meet 2050 climate goals.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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