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Detroit Edison Pulls Out of Coal Gasification Study

September 25, 1985

DETROIT (AP) _ Detroit Edison Co., saying it needs to use its resources elsewhere, has withdrawn from a $450 million study project designed to find clean ways to use coal to make electricity, the company said Wednesday.

Virginia Power, based in Richmond, Va., has applied to the Electric Power Research Institute in Washington to take the place of Detroit Edison as the project’s lead utility, said James McDonald, a Virginia Power spokesman.

″We remain committed to the continuation of research that will result in the utilization of coal resources in an environmenally accepted manner,″ said Margaret Furlong, a Detroit Edison spokeswoman. ″A re-evalution of our priorities has dictated that we withdraw from our lead role in the coal gasification project we proposed to the Department of Energy in February.″

Consumers Power Co., which also had been a participant in the project, stopped active involvement after Detroit Edison pulled out.

″Edison was the lead utility on that, and Edison, after their initial enthusiasm ... apparently indicated a reluctance to go ahead the project. And with that, we also are simply watching what happens,″ said Paul Knopick, a Consumers Power spokesman in Jackson, Mich.

Gasification is the process of turning solid coal into a synthetic natural gas.

The project included preliminary research and the building of a coal gasification plant ″to study whether sulphur and (small particles) could be extracted from high-sulphur coal from Eastern mines and be converted into a clean gas that could be used in power-producing turbines,″ Ms. Furlong said.

A feasibility study for the project was six months under way when Detroit Edison withdrew, Ms. Furlong said.

Virginia Power said it would build a coal gasification plant at either its Chesterfield Power Station or its Chesapeake Energy Center.

The proposed plant could extract enough synthetic gas from coal to generate 200 million watts of electricity an hour, McDonald said.

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