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Tenaska Energy
Type energy conglomerate; independent power producer
Headquarters 1044 North 115th St., Suite 400
Omaha, NE 68154
Key people Howard L. Hawks, CEO
Industry Electric Producer & Distributor
Natural Gas Distributor
Biofuels Distributor
Energy Trading
Products Electricity, Natural Gas, Biofuels
Revenue $11.6 billion (2007)[1]
Net income N/A
Employees 630 (2007)
Subsidiaries Tenaska Power Services
Tenaska BioFuels
Tenaska Capital Management
Tenaska Marketing Ventures
Website Tenaska.com

According to the company's 2007 annual report, Tenaska "develops, constructs, owns and operates non-utility electric generation and cogeneration plants. The company also markets natural gas, electric power and biofuels and provides energy risk management services. In addition, Tenaska is involved in asset acquisition and management, fuel supply, gas transportation systems and electric transmission development."[2] The company is one of largest independent power producers in the United States. It operates and manages power generation plants that in owns in partnership with other companies. Tenaska was founded in 1987 and is based in Omaha, Nebraska."[3][4]

Congressional campaign contributions

Tenaska is one of the largest energy company contributors to both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress. These contributions total $33,700 to the 110th US Congress (as of the third quarter), the largest of which has been to Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). Rep. Barton, for his part, has consistently voted with the oil industry on energy, war and climate bills.[1][citation needed]

Contributions like this from fossil fuel companies to members of Congress are often seen as a political barrier to pursuing clean energy.[citation needed]

More information on oil industry contributions to Congress can be found at FollowtheOilMoney.org, created by the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Oil Change International.[citation needed]

Power portfolio

Out of its total 7,427 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (0.70% of the U.S. total), Tenaska produced 85.2% from natural gas and 14.8% from oil. Tenaska owns power plants in Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.[5]

Existing coal-fired power plants

Tenaska did not own any coal plants in 2007.

Tenaska's failed coal projects

In June 2013, Tenaska announced that both of its proposed coal projects, the Taylorville Energy Center in Illinois and the Trailblazer Energy Center in Texas, were being cancelled. The company cited cheaper natural gas, falling prices for alternative energy, and uncertainty over state and federal energy regulation.[6] Both projects were planned to include carbon capture and storage technology.[7][8]

Taylorville Energy Center

On March 3, 2010 Tenaska announced that its Taylorville station would cost $3.5 billion and would go on-line in 2014. The plant would burn coal to produce gas. The company stated that the plant would be a "net reducer" of CO2. The plant plans to use carbon capture and storage to displace up to 50 percent of its CO2 emissions, and will sell its captured CO2 to Denbury Resources for "enhanced oil recovery" in west Texas oil fields.[9] Tenaska also said it still needs Illinois environmental regulators to issue an air permit as well as the U.S. Department of Energy, which agreed to give the project a $2.6 billion loan guarantee, to complete an environmental review of the proposed project. The facility will be located on a 713-acre site near the town of Taylorville, which is located approximately 35 miles southeast of the capital of Springfield.[10]

On November 29, 2010, the Illinois House Electric General and Commerce Committee voted 7-4 vote to approve the plant.[11]Then on November 30, 2010 the Illinois House rejected legislation that would have paved the way for the plant's construction. For the legislation to pass the House needed 60 votes, but it received 59. However, hours later the plant was resurrected with a 63-50 vote. It will now return to the Senate for another vote on the amended bill.[12]

State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, who sponsored the measure, said he would talk with opponents to see if he can insert new language in the bill to help propel it to the Senate during the final hours of the fall veto session.[13]

Tenaska received an air permit for the power plant in December 2010.[14]

On November 29, 2011, a bill to build the proposed plant passed the Illinois Senate 30-28 on its third try. The bill, SB 678, now must head to the House for approval, though the House is unlikely to vote on it before February 2012.[15]

In May 2012, Tenaska said they would cut the plant's costs by 60% and have it run on natural gas rather than coal, although it is believed the plant would be built so that it could later be retrofitted to begin transforming Illinois coal into synthetic natural gas. Tenaska's project passed the Senate but was struggling to gain the votes it needed to win the approval of the House: in order to finance construction, Tenaska told lawmakers they still want the General Assembly to approve a plan that would require customers to purchase electricity from the plant for the next three decades. Business groups opposed to the rate structure say they intend to continue fighting the plan.[16] Ultimately, Tenaska could not persuade the General Assembly to pass legislation requiring Illinois consumers to purchase the electricity by the end of the June 2012 session.[17]

Tenaska had publicly stated in appeals to the Illinois General Assembly that the plant would capture greenhouse gas emissions and inject them underground. Tenaska had asked the Illinois EPA to consider including limits for carbon dioxide in its permit. But in its final decision, the Illinois EPA did not include the limits, arguing that the technology would not be feasible. In May 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club filed an appeal, arguing that under the Clean Air Act, Tenaska must use the best technology available to control its emissions -- i.e. carbon capture and sequestration.[17]

In a July 9, 2012 filing with the U.S. EPA's Environmental Appeals Board, the Illinois EPA said it will take a second look at its decision to license the plant without requiring that its carbon dioxide emissions be captured and sequestered underground, responding to the concerns of the federal EPA and environmental groups.[17]

Trailblazer Energy Center awaits cap-and-trade legislation

In March 2009, Tenaska CEO David Fiorelli said the company is waiting to see what cap-and-trade legislation or other measures Congress implements before going ahead with its Trailblazer Energy Center. The plant will use about 25 percent of its energy to capture and compress carbon dioxide. Adding carbon capture equipment will increase the project costs by 40 percent. Given these figures, "there has to be a pretty compelling economic reason that you would want to use 25 percent of power and increase your capital cost so substantially," Fiorelli said.[18]

Tenaska receives $7.7 million from non-profit carbon capture group

In October 2010 it was announced that Tenaska will receive $7.7 million in grant money to be used for an engineering design study of carbon capture technology in its proposed Trailblazer Energy Center. The money is coming from the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, an Australia-based organization that receives financial backing from the Australian government. The not-for-profit organization’s membership includes the governments of the United States and more than a dozen other nations, as well as companies in the coal and power industries, including Tenaska. The grant “provides international recognition of the really pioneering role that Trailblazer is expected to play to reduce carbon emissions,” said Helen Manroe, Tenaska’s manager of development.[19]

Tenaska’s Trailblazer is one of six projects to receive funding from the institute in awards. The only other American project to receive funding is another Tenaska effort, a plan still in its early stages to retrofit with carbon capture technology a coal-fired power plant in Louisiana.[19]


Contact details

1044 N. 115th Street, Suite 400
Omaha, Nebraska USA 68154-4446
Phone: (402) 691-9500
Fax: (402) 691-9526
E-mail: Power AT Tenaska.com
Website: http://www.tenaska.com/

Articles and Resources


  1. 2007 Annual Report, Tenaska Energy, p. 1.
  2. Tenaska 2007 Annual Report
  3. Tenaska Energy Inc., BusinessWeek Company Insight Center, accessed Aug. 2008.
  4. "Company Profile", Tenaska website, accessed May 2008.
  5. Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  6. "Developer pulls plug on Taylorville Energy Center," The State Journal-Register, June 21, 2013
  7. www.cleancoalillinois.com
  8. www.tenaskatrailblazer.com
  9. "Company ties 2 planned power plants to emissions bill, financing" EE News, April 21, 2009.
  10. "Taylorville plant to cost $3.5 bln" Reuters, March 3, 2010
  11. Kurt Erickson, "Lawmakers OK Taylorville, Ill., power plant" Quad-City Times, Nov. 29, 2010.
  12. "House revives coal-gas plant plans" The News-Gazette, Dec. 1, 2010.
  13. "House rejects Taylorville coal plant" Kurt Erickson, Pantagraph.com, November 30, 2010.
  14. "Tenaska clean-coal project gets Texas air permit" Reuters, December 14, 2010.
  15. Julie Wernau, "Proposed gasified coal plant wins Senate approval on 3rd try" Chicago Tribune, Nov. 30, 2011.
  16. Kurt Erickson, "Power plant project stripped of coal," The Southern Illinoisian, May 10, 2012.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Julie Wernau, "Ill. EPA to rethink pollution permit for Downstate coal-to-gas plant," Chicago Tribune, July 9, 2012.
  18. "Sweetwater coal plant ready for cap and trade rules," Standard-Times, March 30, 2009.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Jaime Adame, "Tenaska awarded $7.7 million in grant money" Reporter News, Oct. 12, 2010.

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