Investors in so-called “clean coal” technology may soon have 300 million more reasons to start building in Texas. House Bill 469, filed late last month by state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, would provide up to $100 million in tax credits for the first three power plant construction projects to make use of integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC, technology.

King’s bill stipulates that each plant must have a capacity of at least 200 megawatts and must include technology to sequester at least 60 percent of the carbon dioxide it emits . Cutting-edge IGCC plants with such carbon capture technology can cost 50 percent more than traditional coal-fired generators.

King said that the added expense has scared away plenty of investors. The former chair of the Regulated Industries Committee told Elizabeth Souder of the Dallas Morning News that “people are afraid, the industry”s afraid, to go and try to build a clean coal plant — I call it the prototype penalty.””

By capturing the carbon emissions, the plants supported by House Bill 469 could also reduce the green house gases that contribute to global warming. Interestingly, King is on record as questioning whether human activity impacts climate change.

King, who also frequently describes himself as a champion of the free market, sponsored legislation in 2007 to provide government support for investors in nuclear energy. King”s newest bill supporting IGCC plants would provide franchise tax credits even to entities that pay no such taxes.

— R.A. Dyer

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