By Ian Urbina | New York Times | July 5, 2016 | Powered by History Project
This timeline serves two purposes. It offers a deeper way to understand the history of the Kemper project through the documents behind these events. It is part of a larger New York Times investigation that can be read here. Move through the timeline as a whole or click on one of the questions below to follow a theme. We will also post new materials when they become available, as there are still thousands of pages of documents that may come to light through pending open-records requests to federal and state agencies. The timeline also features a selection of surreptitiously recorded phone conversations between engineers from this coal plant.
Scalable and commercially viable? At the heart of the debate over carbon capture is whether the technology, which has been largely proven, is commercially viable and can be affordably put into place at larger-capacity power plants.
What were the engineers saying? Supporters of the Kemper project have contended that its mounting cost overruns, delays and many design and construction challenges were the unforeseen and unforeseeable consequence of carrying out first-of-its-kind technology. Many engineers offered a different view.
Who should pay? Power plants are expensive, especially ones using new technology. And such projects raise thorny questions about who should shoulder that cost. Taxpayers? Investors? Customers in the area where the plant is built? Is it fair to charge ratepayers before the project is done? And what guarantees should there be on that investment?
What was the company’s view? Innovation is difficult. Solving some of the most vexing societal problems will require companies to take risks and receive assistance from state and federal governments. What vision did the backers of this project have and what obstacles did they face?