A multi-billion dollar coal to liquid plant in Mingo County is still on schedule despite some hurdles.
TransGas Development Systems announced the project back in 2008, which will be the largest coal to liquid plant in the U.S. And while there’s no bricks and mortar to judge the progress, Randy Harris, with the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, says they’re moving forward.
“We’re still well under the window of time it takes to take a project from concept to this stage,” says Harris.
The design for the $4-billion project, located near Gilbert, is already complete. Site preparations are underway. TransGas is negotiating with the main contractor.
“In some regards like permitting, we’re well ahead of our original schedule,” says Harris. “In other aspects, like financing, the uncertainty of the election slowed down the whole process,” according to Harris. “People just weren’t prepared to make decisions.”
The EPA has waged a war on coal over the past three years with the blessing of President Barack Obama. Harris says that makes a lot of people with the money to invest a little skittish.
“It has slowed down the investment community. Bankers don’t understand the difference between a coal fired plant and a chemical plant like we are. They just look at it and say it’s all coal,” explains Harris.
But he says there’s a big difference between burning coal for fuel and liquifying coal into gasoline, petroleum gas and propane. He says when they sit potential buyers down and explain the difference most of that concern goes away.
Once the financing is in place, construction can get underway.
“Right now all the contractors are telling us that it’s going to take about 3 and a half years to go from where we are now to commissioning, which is the point where it’s turned over from the construction company to the [plant] operators.”
That means the TransGas plant should be up and running in late 2016, early 2017.