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Former Coal Plant in West Virginia Being Converted to Burn Hydrogen

A California company plans to convert a dormant West Virginia coal plant into a hydrogen burning power station and graphite production plant.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice recently announced that Omnis Fuel Technologies plans to invest $800 million in the 1,200-megawatt coal-fired Pleasants power plant that was slated to retire in June.

The California company plans to build a facility to produce graphite, which is used in electric vehicle batteries, from coal and to capture the hydrogen produced in the process to fuel a newly configured power plant at the site.

In July, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the sale of the Pleasants power station in Willow Island, West Virginia, from an affiliate of Houston-based Energy Transition and Environmental Management to an affiliate of Omnis Fuel Technologies LLC, based in Santa Barbara, California, which renamed the plant Quantum Pleasants.

Prior to Omnis Fuel taking control of the plant, Energy Transition and Environmental Management had been leasing the plant from Energy Harbor until a new owner could be found for the mothballed plant.

FirstEnergy Solutions took ownership of the Pleasants plant from FirstEnergy’s Allegheny Energy Solutions subsidiary in 2020 as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. FirstEnergy Solutions emerged from bankruptcy as Energy Harbor in February 2020.

In 2017, FirstEnergy subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison filed plans to acquire the Pleasants power station. FERC subsequently rejected those plans.

Omnis Fuel Technologies said it plans to return the Pleasants plant to normal operations in the next few weeks and aims to convert the plant to burning hydrogen over the next 12 to 24 months.

Omnis will use coal to produce hydrogen, graphite, and water vapor and, in the process, more than double the amount of coal the plant consumes, Justice said. When the project is complete, the plant that currently employs about 160 workers will need upwards of 600 employees, Justice added.

Omnis Fuel said its aim is to use existing power plant infrastructure to make clean hydrogen and high-grade graphite from plentiful, low-cost hydrocarbons using its patented Ultra-High Temperature Omnis Quantum Pyrolysis technology.

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