Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation’s Argus Cogeneration Expansion (ACE) Project (ACE or ARGUS)

Docket No. 86-AFC-1

Certification Granted on January 6, 1988

Staff Counsel: Jeff Ogata

Hearing Officer: Garret Shean

Presiding Member: Commissioner Barbara Crowley


Project Summary


AFC Filing and Data Adequacy

Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation (KMCC) filed an AFC on January 29, 1986 for the Argus Cogeneration Expansion (ACE) project, a coal-fired demonstration facility using circulating fluidized bed (CFB) combustion. The cogeneration plant would produce steam for use by the KMCC Argus chemical production plant, near Trona, in the northwest corner of San Bernardino County, and 96 MW of electricity for sale to Southern California Edison. The AFC was deemed data adequate on June 11, 1986.

Demonstration Project

ACE would be the first coal powerplant certified by the Energy Commission since Cool Water, Docket No. 78-AFC-2, and the first demonstration project licensed pursuant to Public Resources Code section 25540.6(a)(5).

ACE was intended to demonstrate the CFB technology, air pollution reduction techniques, alternate solid fuels, and their operational and economic performance characteristics. This demonstration might accelerate the deployment in California of large coal facilities that could meet California’s stringent air emission standards. Such systems had not been commercially demonstrated in California, and Public Resources Code section 25540.6(a)(5) could thus allow ACE to be exempt from a demand conformance finding.


Demonstration Status

Because ACE’s technologies were not commercially available, the Committee determined in an August 27, 1986 order that it met the standards of Public Resources Code section 25540.6(a)(5), qualifying as a demonstration project. Demonstration status exempted the ACE project from any need analysis. The Committee directed the applicant to submit a document, discussing how the demonstration-related information gathered from the ACE project would be made available to the Energy Commission. In response, the applicant submitted the first draft of the Demonstration Plan in December 1986.


Sensitive and/or listed species involved in this project were sand linanthus, desert tortoise, and Mojave ground squirrel. Only the Mojave ground squirrel was listed at the time of certification. Impacts to the ground squirrel were mitigated by on-site avoidance measures and off-site compensation of lands within the Desert Tortoise Natural Area.

Air Quality

The Ace project air emissions were mitigated by a combination of emission controls on the boiler and a series of emission reduction strategies on numerous sources at the North American Chemical Corporation’s (NACC) chemical plant. The ACE boiler air emissions were limited by the fluidized boiler design itself. In addition, ammonia injection for NOx control and limestone injection for sulfur dioxide control further reduced those emissions. A high efficiency baghouse was used to limit particulate emissions. Urea injection at the existing Argus 25 and 26 boilers reduced the NOx emissions from those facilities and offset the new NOx emissions from ACE. SO2 emission reductions occurred with the increase in scrubber liquid in the Argus 25 and 26 boilers and the elimination of the burning of high sulfur petroleum coke in those boilers. Hydrocarbon controls at the Liquid/Liquid Extraction facility at NACC offset the hydrocarbon emissions from ACE. Particulate emissions were offset by the use of the new cooling tower drift eliminators at the numerous cooling towers at the chemical plant. All of these emissions reductions fully offset and thus satisfactorily mitigated the ACE project air emissions.

Demonstration Plan

Kerr-McGee anticipated a number of major benefits to California from its ACE project technology demonstrations, including, reduced air pollution, and greater fuel flexibility leading to reduced fuel costs.

However, since the ACE technologies were unproven on a commercial scale, an appropriate Demonstration Plan was required to ensure that necessary operational and performance data were collected and disseminated. Essentially, the demonstration program and results were a trade-off for the demand conformance exemption.

Demonstration Program

Based on applicant’s Demonstration Plan proposal, CEC staff drafted Demonstration Conditions of Certification. The Demonstration Conditions specified the evaluations Kerr-McGee must conduct and the reports it had to submit (i.e., the completion of the Demonstration Plan), including updating the Demonstration Plan, the development of a Control and Data Acquisition System (CDAS), and the establishment of a Commercial Demonstration Group to monitor progress, participate in seminars, and advise both staff and applicant. (Pages 139-148 of the CEC Decision.) The Demonstration Conditions also highlighted the need for Kerr-McGee to comply with relevant permits and LORS, and provided a mechanism for short-term variances, as appropriate, to carry out the demonstration program.

Results achieved and reported under the Demonstration Plan were to be a factor in evaluating whether ACE had met its goals, should the applicant later wish the project to change from demonstration to commercial status.


The Energy Commission unanimously certified Kerr-McGee’s Argus Cogeneration Expansion (ACE) Project on January 6, 1988. The facility was constructed and began operation in 1990. The Commercial Demonstration Group was formed and the demonstration program and seminar processes were initiated.

On June 8, 1994, the CEC approved ACE’s request to end the demonstration phase and granted commercial status to the project.