Speculators have struck gold (aka taxpayer gushing subsidies) again. How do they pull this off over and over?
First, about a decade ago, the promoters of the proposed Two Elk power plant in southern Campbell County persuaded county and state officials to dedicate a huge portion of the state’s eligibility for tax exempt low interest revenue bonds totalling $445-million to the project, which to meet federal requirements they dubbed a “solid waste recylcling and disposal facility.” (see earlier WyoFile story on this subject)
Next, the project received permits to construct from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
Next, the owners got extensions of time on various bonds and permits.
Next, they built a highway to nowhere; this is apparently to be taken as evidence that this speculative venture might actually be built. There is actually pavement out there, leading to sagebrush flats.
Meanwhile the project has no nearby market, no ready ability to transmit any power which it might generate and, despite the state’s largesse, is still struggling to find financing.
Environmentalists can relax; this plant is not generating greenhouse gases, although its promoters are.
Many in Campbell County think it’s dead. Unalterable Fact: Public utilities, not promoters, usually build power plants.
The University of Wyoming, with documented expertise and talented faculty, has received a federal stimulus grant of five million dollars to study feasibility of carbon sequestration in geologic formations. Whoopee!! Great news!!
But, I gasped as I read it, Two Elk ALSO received a five million dollar federal grant to study, it appears, the SAME THING!! At the barren site where the power plant is NOT being built; in the absence of a power plant, it has been re-christened the Two Elk Energy Park. Nothing like the smell of stimulus dollars in the morning.
One Brad Enzi, formerly of Gillette, serves as vice president of Colorado-based North American Power Group, the Two Elk promoter/owner. Hmm, does his last name rhyme with another famous name?
Contacted in Cheyenne, Enzi-the-son denied that the Two Elk Power Plant is a failed project. Enzi said his employer, North American Power Group, is still working on “bulk financing” to make the power plant happen. He said that North American Power Group has even applied to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality for a permit to burn bio mass from beetle kill trees in the plant should it ever be built.
Enzi said the sequestration study, which he said covers a larger area of the Powder River Basin than just the Two Elk site, is not a federal liferaft thrown to the much-delayed power plant.
“The Two Elk Energy Park sequestration project ,” said Enzi, “is separate from the Two elk power plant. By working with researchers from Stanford University and the Montana university system, we hope to gain a better understanding of the underground storage potential of the entire region through this sequestration project. Although work continues to make the make the Two Elk plant happen, it is entirely seperate from the sequestration project.”
Meanwhile, taxpayers, the Two Elk Energy Park, a figment of some promoters’ imagination, about as much an energy experiment station as my back yard, is getting just under $5 million in stimulus money to massage words into attractive investment schemes.