Energy Department steers nearly $1 billion into CCS projects


-- Southern Company, another big producer of coal-fired power, will get $295 million for a demonstration program to capture CO2 from a 160 megawatt flue gas stream at Plant Barry north of Mobile, Alabama.

-- Summit Texas Clean Energy, LLC, part of the Summit Power Group, will capture 90 percent of the emissions from a 400 megawatt plant to be built near Midland-Odessa in Texas. DOE is steering $350 million into this project, which will send the captured CO2 to oilfields in the Permian Basin for use in enhanced oil recovery projects.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has called development and deployment of commercial-scale carbon capture vital to fight global warming, because countries with large coal reserves -- including the U.S. -- will continue using the resource.

He hopes investment in the technology can help lead to widespread deployment beginning in eight to 10 years. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) pronounced himself "thrilled" with the funding and called it a "critical down payment" for the state's economy.

But Rockefeller doesn't see eye-to-eye with the Obama administration on all things climate -- he recently attacked the White House preference for a U.S. greenhouse gas emissions cut in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, calling it too aggressive.