FutureGen CEO explains what happens next for project sites, land

By Gary Scott on February 6, 2015 at 2:11pm

2011 file photo of FutureGen test site.

Optimism about reviving the FutureGen project from local officials notwithstanding, project officials are talking about what happens next now that the Department of Energy pulled a billion dollars in funding this week.

The future is in question for the Meredosia power plant that was being retrofitted to serve as the power generator and origin of liquefied carbon dioxide that would be stored on the other side of Morgan County, and the same holds true for the storage site itself and the land that has been acquired.

Humphreys says a “fairly significant effort” has been undertaken at the former ‘Dosh Ameren plant, including existing structure demolition, excavation, and chimney foundation installation. Water line and utility work has also been done.

Humphreys says it’s all been about making a better site upon which to develop the industrial project.

“Assuming that the project does not find a path to go to full construction, that site will be re-claimed and certainly it will be well-positioned to be a development site for other types of ventures in the future,” explains Humphries.

“The asset owners of the other site would be a combination of the Department of Energy, Ameren and the Alliance, and we’ll work out through a negotiation what the ultimate disposition of the physical property that remains there is.”

In the case of the land easements acquired for the pipeline that would run between Meredosia and the northeastern county storage site, Humphreys says FutureGen will follow through on transactions that have already been finalized, and again, figure out what to do with the land in discussions with the DOE.

In total, Humphreys says about 8,000 acres of land has been secured.

As co-owners, FutureGen and federal officials also need to figure out what to do with that storage site, where a characterization test well was drilled in 2011.

While the land itself is leased, a decision on the existing equipment and injection site will, as with the ‘Dosh plant, come in the next few months, Humphreys says.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of geologic characterization work. We do have an existing geologic characterization well that goes down nearly a mile, and we also have installed a fairly large gravel pad that could be used as a site for additional wells that could provide supplemental characterization, should DOE want to use the site for some other purpose,” he says.

In a press release, the Department of Energy this week said “work to date at the site has proven that the deep saline formation remains a world-class location for geologic carbon sequestration.”

“We have a couple of surface properties, and we’ll be making decisions about how we would reclaim those. One of the properties is where our main injection site was going to be, whether we use that for future purpose or it’s ultimately retained by the Department of Energy, is something we’ll determine with DOE,” he says.

Humphreys also notes the infrastructure work that has been done in northeastern Morgan County to prepare for the project will remain.

“In the case of things like public road upgrades, culverts, drainage systems, rural water infrastructure that connects both our sites, as well as some of the local homeowners to the rural water district system, those are all installed and we would transfer the title associated with that property to the relevant road district, water district, if we already haven’t,” Humphreys says.

“So, the benefits of those upgrades will stay with the community.”

Humphreys also notes the downtown Jacksonville office that FutureGen has occupied for the last several years will be kept open for at least a few months.