Another Green Dream NIGHTMARE

The Green movement with the support of the EPA and stimulus dollars has somehow convinced us that Solar, Biomass, and Lignite were somehow going to save the earth from a doomsday created by humans.  The Green movement brought campaign-style promises of solutions to green house gasses for our world’s survival and jobs for economic justice.  Where are the successes?  Most CO2 capturing plants are problem laden with budgeting problems that can no longer be justified.  That will never happen to the Mississippi lignite plant because the ratepayers have their wallets open to this conceptual dreamy nightmare.

USC’s biomass plant debacle

How the university’s green dream went bust after three ‘potentially lethal accidents’ and a host of other problems

By WAYNE WASHINGTON (The State Newspaper)

biomass        Quinton Bolin, USC’s energy facilities superintendent describes how the turbine generator works as he gives a tour of USC’s idle Biomass Energy Center. Columbia, S.C. 10-05-2011.

On June 28, 2009, an explosion rocked the biomass-fueled power plant on the campus of the University of South Carolina.

The force of the blast sent a metal panel some 60 feet toward the control office of the plant at Whaley and Sumter streets, according to documents obtained from USC by The State newspaper through a Freedom of Information Act request.

No one was hurt, but USC officials were concerned enough about the “potentially lethal accident” that they ordered an independent safety review and, in a strongly worded letter to the company that had built the plant, made it clear that university staff would not be allowed back into the building until the review was completed.

The blast underscored what some USC officials privately grumbled about for years: That the plant has been a $20 million disaster, a money pit that was poorly planned and built by a company that had never constructed such a cutting-edge “green energy” power plant before.

Interviews with USC officials and a spokeswoman for the company as well as a review of more than 1,800 pages of documents show that:

• USC, whose officials touted the plant “as the cat’s meow” before its startup in December 2007, closed it in March of this year after it had been shut down more than three dozen times. In one two-year period, the plant only provided steam – its purpose – on 98 out of 534 days, according to a USC review.

• There was no separate bidding process for the construction of the plant. The firm that built it, Johnson Controls Inc. of Wisconsin, was the only firm that included the construction of a biomass plant as part of its effort to win a competitively bid energy services contract. JCI won that $33.6 million energy services contract, then alone negotiated with USC the added cost of the biomass plant.

• USC paid JCI an additional $19.6 million for the plant. The university was to get its money back in energy savings or payments from JCI. So far, JCI has paid USC $4.3 million because the plant did not perform as promised. As things stand now, USC will recoup its $19.6 million investment by 2020 from payments by JCI.

• Despite a relationship that was, at one point, so acrimonious that USC hired outside legal counsel, the university continues to work with JCI. One option that USC now is considering is putting natural gas-fired turbines in the closed biomass plant to produce power, and JCI may be involved, a USC official says.

• Most substantively, however, the biomass experience led USC to change its structure of governance, giving a reformulated committee of its board of trustees responsibility for overseeing and vetting projects.

Now sitting idle, with spider webs and a thin film of dust replacing a plant’s hard-hat hustle and bustle, the biomass plant stands as a monument to the university’s failed push toward new, “green” technology, inadequate oversight and naïveté, some of its own officials acknowledge in internal documents.

The plant blemishes the legacy of the late Andrew Sorensen, the beloved, bow-tied president who was in charge of USC when the plant was conceived and constructed. And it also raises questions about whether USC’s revised system of oversight will be able to prevent future instances of idealism gone wrong that marred the biomass project from the beginning.

“A (expletive) mess with many layers,” is how William “Ted” Moore, a former USC vice president of finance and planning, described the plant in an email to Ed Walton, USC’s chief financial officer.

In another email, this one to USC president Harris Pastides, who succeeded Sorensen, Moore said: “The value of this thing may be scrap metal.”

That’s not the way JCI sees the project.

“We remain committed to the long-term success of the USC project, and the university has been supportive and appreciative of Johnson Controls’ efforts to fulfill its commitment,” said Karen Conrad, the company’s director of marketing communications.

Full story:


At least they finally (weeks late) complied with FOIA requests, unlike some public agencies we know:

About this story

More than 1,800 pages of records obtained by The State show the biomass project collapsed into delays, recriminations and frustration.

Click here to read excerpts of those documents

State senior reporter Wayne Washington requested documents, via the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, concerning USC’s biomass plant on June 29 from the University of South Carolina. That law allows public agencies 15 working days to respond to a request for public information.

University officials responded they would need additional time to fulfill the request. They also said, because USC is getting an increasing number of requests for public information, the university would exercise its legal right to charge for document production and copying.

USC supplied 1,816 pages of documents concerning the $20 million facility to The State Sept. 22, charging $255.80 to provide the information.


About Mississippi Coal
Welcome! It is an honor to have a moment of your day. We are in favor of all forms of energy. We care about the future of this great Nation and seek to expose the corruption behind the Kemper County CO2 capturing experimental Lignite coal Demonstration unit. Our Chief complaint is that the rate payers pay for it in their electric bills. The CO2 capturing does not produce electricity so therefore serves no purpose for the ratepayers. It is a money scam for Mississippi power and Southern Company. Mississippi is first in following the (United Nation's Agenda 21) Kyoto Protocols for the regulation of carbon dioxide, a gas we breathe out of our lungs, by forcing the people to pay for it through energy bills and taxes. Through the process of investigating the Kemper County Coal Plant issue, we feel criminal acts have been committed and that soon FCC violations will be added to the offenses. People are being lied to, deceived, or misled and therefore are fully cooperating with this Lignite experiment. "This blog or any content may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of political pathways, Constitutional infringements, democracy, science, and other issues. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is compiled and distributed without profit. This blog does not always agree with certain personal views or agendas of the published authors, but we will overlook such views many times in order to present facts, conclusions, and connections for knowledge or clarification. We hope you gain from this critical subject matter of the article/op-ed."

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