For Immediate Release: August 26, 2009
Media Contact: Percy Della - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Begins Hydrogen Power Plant Review

SACRAMENTO - The official review has started for one of a few hydrogen power plants in the world.

In a unanimous vote today, the California Energy Commission declared the application for certification of the 250-megawatt Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) Power Project in West Kern County data adequate. Data adequacy means the Commission has received enough information from the plant's applicant, Hydrogen California International LLC of Long Beach -- to start the yearlong certification process.

The HECA project is an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant that will capture and permanently store 90 percent of its carbon dioxide.

The Commission has named Energy Commission Vice Chairman James D. Boyd to lead the Committee to review the project. Commissioner Jeffrey Byron is the associate member.

The committee makes sure the project meets the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. The Energy Commission is responsible for reviewing thermal electric power plants, 50 MW and greater in California.

As lead agency under CEQA, the Commission through its facility certification process examines public health and safety, environmental impacts, and engineering aspects of proposed power plants and all related facilities, such as electric transmission lines and natural gas and water pipelines.

The HECA is an IGCC power plant that takes petroleum coke, coal or blends of each, combined with non-potable water and converts them into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen is used to generate electricity, while the carbon dioxide is compressed and piped to the neighboring oil reservoirs and injected for storage to enhance oil recovery.

The proposed facility will be located on a 473-acre about 7 miles west of Bakersfield and 1.5 miles of the unincorporated community of Tupman. The site is near a hydrocarbon-producing area known as the Elk Hills Field, now currently used primarily for agricultural purposes.

The HECA plant is one of a handful of its kind built or proposed in the world. The existing IGCC plants are located in Belgium, Spain and China.

The project has won a $308 million funding from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Investment Act under a program espousing power plants that enhance the country's r energy security while helping fight global climate change.

If approved, HECA will begin construction in 2011, with full commercial operation expected by 2015.

More information on the proposed plant is available at:

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