Still working on CO2 storage

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A little more than a month after Fayette County lost out on its effort to host carbon dioxide storage for the FutureGen 2.0 Alliance, the company leading that effort is still at work.

Willow Grove Carbon Solutions hosted community meetings in St. Elmo and Beecher City on Wednesday as it continues to work on easements for carbon dioxide storage.
Martin Culik, senior project manager for Willow Grove, explained that the company had prior to this week signed easements with 136 local landowners for a little more than half of the 25,000 acres within the area of Fayette County designated for carbon dioxide storage.
Willow Grove has been working to secure easements in the Loudon area, north of St. Elmo, and in the far northwestern part of Effingham County for close to a year.
Initially, Culik said, Willow Grove officials met with individuals owning 40 or more acres in that area. Invited to attend the Tuesday meetings were those owning less than 40 acres, he said.
Willow Grove still believes that the Fayette County area is a viable host for carbon dioxide storage, and that such sites will be needed as new regulations requiring utilities to capture and store carbon dioxide go into effect.
“We’re moving ahead,” Culik said about Willow Grove’s hopes of developing a carbon dioxide storage site in Fayette County. Willow Grove estimates that the storage project will have a 30-year lifespan.
“We’re continuing to work on enrollments (easements), and we’re continuing to talk to utilities that would be possible sources of carbon dioxide,” he said. “And we’re still getting favorable responses from those utilities.”
Willow Grove Carbon Solutions, Culik said, is sending out quarterly newsletters to inform area residents about the company’s pending projects. He said Willow Grove currently is working on 13 projects in 10 states.
He explained to a crowd of about 30 people at First Church of God in St. Elmo on Tuesday afternoon that the easements being signed by Fayette County landowners cover a term of five years.
“There is a lot going on in that five-year period,” Culik said. “We will be conducting environmental studies and negotiating with carbon dioxide sources.”
Those sources would include a coal-burning power plant in Newton that generates an estimated 8 million tons of carbon dioxide each year and one in Coffeen that generates an estimated 6 million tons annually. Both of those, Culik said, generate more carbon dioxide than the planned FutureGen plant in Meredosia.
If the local project work extends beyond five years, Willow Grove will go back to local landowners for easement extensions.
“Obviously, we can’t build (a carbon dioxide storage facility) until two things happen. One, we have the land that we need, and two, we have contracts with the sources of carbon dioxides,” Culik said.
During Tuesday afternoon’s meeting, Culik said that Willow Grove wants to work with landowners in developing the storage facility.
“We don’t want to be in the middle of corn fields. We don’t need to be in the middle of corn fields,” he said.
“The bottom line is, where we put the wells, where we put the pipelines, is up to you,” Culik said. “It has to be mutually agreed upon by you.
“We, unlike oil and gas companies, do not have access to your land to do what we want,” he said. “That’s critical.”
He presented those present with a term sheet that shows that Willow Grove will pay landowners either $20 per acre or $250, whichever is great, and that those owning land on which seismic studies will be performed will receive a one-time payment of $500.
Landowners would receive royalty payments of 8 percent of the annual gross revenue, as well as annual fees of $1.50 per lineal food of pipeline on their property, $400 per acre for occupied surface land and $2,000 for each well on their property.
Culik said that pipelines will be at least 4 feet below the surface, and that wells and other facilities will not be closer than 1,000 feet to any house or barn.