MORGANTOWN, WV - The Department of Energy has set
January 31, 2001, as the target date for issuing its formal call for industry
proposals in a fast-track, power plant improvement program that could
help reduce future brownouts and blackouts.
The department's National Energy Technology Laboratory, which is coordinating
the $95 million federal initiative, has also scheduled a public "pre-application
conference" 10 a.m. on February 15 at the laboratory's conference
center in Morgantown, WV. Proceedings will be "webcast" live
over the Internet.
The department also said it will accelerate its review of proposals which
will be due in mid-April. The department had originally set early October
for naming winning projects but will now move that date to late August
or early September in an effort to get projects underway as soon as possible.
Congress included the "Power Plant Improvement Initiative"
in its FY 2001 appropriations for the department's Office of Fossil Energy
as an effort to improve the efficiency, reliability, and environmental
performance of the nation's coal-fired power fleet. Coal-based power plants
currently supply 55 percent of the nation's electricity. The initiative
has taken on added importance as California and other parts of the country
struggle with sharp rises in electricity prices and the prospects of increasing
power supply disruptions.
Federal funding for the initiative, which must be at least matched by
winning companies, will go to advance technologies that boost the efficiencies
of existing coal-fired power plants - in effect, generating more megawatts
from the same amount of fuel - or that lower emissions and allow plants
to continue operating under strict environmental standards. Technologies
that can be applied to new coal-fired power plants will also be eligible.
Proposed technologies must be mature enough to be deployed commercially
within the next few years, and the demonstration projects must be large
enough to show that the technology is ready for commercial use. The proposed
technologies must also offer advancements in performance or cost-competitiveness
that are well beyond today's power plant technologies.
The Energy Department posted an early draft of the planned solicitation
on its National Energy Technology Laboratory web site on December 7, 2000,
and asked prospective proposers and others to comment on the proposed
initiative. A public comment meeting was subsequently held, and the department
has posted responses to questions raised at the meeting.
A complete set of information on the "Power Plant Improvement Initiative,"
including the draft solicitation, is available at:
Web users who want to listen to the Internet broadcast of the February
15 pre-application conference should register at this web site by February