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Cleco investing $900M in Emissions Reductions Project at Central Louisiana facility

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Posted at 1:18 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 17:11:22-04

Cleco is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by investing millions at one of its electric generation units.

The unit, the largest of nine electric generations units, is located at Brame Energy Center in Lena, Louisiana.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Cleco Corporate Holdings LLC President and CEO Bill Fontenot announced Monday that the company will invest $900 million to significantly reduce carbon emissions at the Madison-3 unit. To reduce emissions, Cleco plans to build a carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) facility to remove and compress 95% or more of the CO2 emitted by Madison-3 and permanently store it in geological formations under the site.

The company has named the project “Diamond Vault,” and estimates it will create 30 to 40 direct new jobs and an average of 1,100 construction jobs in central Louisiana over a three-year period.

“Today’s announcement is an important milestone on Louisiana’s path to a cleaner energy future,” Gov. Edwards said. “Our state has attracted significant investment in the construction of new facilities that minimize emissions. Cleco’s investment reduces existing emissions, which moves us even more rapidly toward our goal of Net Zero emissions by 2050."

According to a release, Cleco secured a $9 million congressional appropriation, to be administered and disbursed by Louisiana Economic Development, to help defray the cost of a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study. After the study, Cleco plans to raise capital funding of approximately $900 million through tax credits, Department of Energy grants and private equity investment.

“Cleco’s Project Diamond Vault will ensure a clean and sustainable power solution for Cleco customers while creating and retaining jobs for the communities we serve,” Fontenot said.

The FEED study is expected to be complete by the end of 2023.

Permitting, which follows an environmental impact and public review process, is expected to be complete during the second half of 2025. Construction would begin immediately thereafter and commercial operations are planned to begin no later than 2028, they say.

A representative from the Sierra Club in Louisiana says that despite the claim from Edwards and Cleco, they are not confident that the project will be able to sequester carbon effectively to "avert the worst impacts of climate change."

“Spending nearly one billion dollars of ratepayer and taxpayer money to sequester carbon dioxide underground for up to 1,000 years, using unproven technology, doesn’t remove the environmental damage caused by coal mining or the toxic threat that coal ash poses to our waterways in Louisiana," Darryl Malek-Wiley, Organizing Representative for Sierra Club in Louisiana said. "Fossil fuel companies can’t keep methane from leaking  into our atmosphere when stored temporarily, so I’m not confident that a project like this is going to be able to sequester carbon dioxide on a timescale needed to avert the worst impacts of climate change. We need to move away from fossil fuels like coal and fracked natural gas and toward clean energy like efficiency, renewable energy, and energy storage.”

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