Preliminary design is beginning for the first coal-fueled powerplant in the U.S. in nearly a decade to use integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) operation. GE Energy, Bechtel Power Corp. and American Electric Power Co. have agreed to proceed with the project, which would be built on one of three sites on the Ohio River, including one in Meigs County, Ohio, if AEP receives regulatory recovery from the Ohio Public Utilities Commission. The plant is scheduled for commercial startup in 2010.

The $1.2-billion project is the first fruit of an alliance formed last October between Atlanta-based GE and Frederick, Md.-based Bechtel to develop a �reference plant� IGCC design that can be replicated for other customers with minimal customization for the site and coal type. The announcement gives the team the lead in a race with at least two other teams of engineer-constructors and technology providers (ENR 6/20 p. 16). The Bechtel-GE team will perform as an engineering and construction consortium under contract to Columbus, Ohio-based AEP, says Bruce D. Moreton, Bechtel Power IGCC operations and business development manager.

The creation of a reference plant is a significant innovation, says Moreton. �This is something that has been absent in this market�the ability of a single entity to offer a commercial proposal that would also offer a standard technical proposal.� Standardizing the design �takes risk out of the job,� he adds. Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corp. also is considering constructing an IGCC powerplant, and Bechtel has done a feasibility study for it, he adds.

The proposed 629-MW plant will have two gasifiers using the ChevronTexaco process with two GE combustion turbines and tk steam turbines. It will be fueled by Eastern coal and will use AEP coal-delivery infrastructure already in place, says Melissa McHenry, AEP spokeswoman. Transmission interconnection studies are under way for the three proposed sites.

Following 10 to 12 months of front-end engineering design (FEED) in the Houston office of Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals, the GE-Bechtel team aims to negotiate an EPC contract with AEP, with commercial operation of the plant scheduled for summer 2010, says Moreton. In addition to the current project, AEP is considering another 629-MW IGCC plant in the eastern part of its service area, but has not yet selected a site. It would be scheduled for operation in 2013, says McHenry.