Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify which project will receive federal funds.  

Consol Energy is getting a financial boost from the federal government.

The Southpointe-based company found out Wednesday that its Coal FIRST project is one of four projects nationwide that will share $80 million in funding. Those projects are to show that natural gas, coal and other resources can be burned cleanly as electricity sources through the use of carbon-capture technology.

The Coal FIRST project is an advanced coal-fired power plant with that technology.

Dan Brouillette, the U.S. Energy secretary, announced the funding at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park, where he led a panel discussion. Brouillette was at a Range Resources natural gas well site in North Strabane Township the day before.

These four facilities, according to a DOE news release, “will be fueled by coal, natural gas, biomass and waste plastics and incorporate carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies.”

CONSOL has another major project underway, the OMNIS Bailey refinery at the Pennsylvania Mining Complex – a property that the company touts as the largest underground coal mining complex in North America. Two-thirds of the complex is in Washington and Greene counties, with one-third in West Virginia. And it encompasses three mines: Bailey, Enlow Fork and Harvey.

Consol spokesman Zach Smith said the first of eight modules of the OMNIS Bailey plant is near completion. The refinery, he explained, “will convert waste coal slurry into two products: a high-quality carbon product that can be used as fuel or as a feedstock for other higher-value applications, and a mineral matter product that has potential to be used as a soil amendment in agricultural applications.”

Two U.S. Small Business Administration officials visited OMNIS Bailey on Wednesday. Dan Nordberg and Steve Bulger, visiting small business owners across the state, ended their three-day excursion at the Pennsylvania Mining Complex.

State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll Township, said the federal funding for Consol provides a boost for the entire commonwealth.

“This announcement is a game-changer not only for the local economy, but also for Pennsylvania’s energy economy as a whole,” she said in a prepared statement.

“For years, our power plants have been working to operate more efficiently with the least environmental impact possible. This funding will help us take the next step in that process by supporting a plant with zero net carbon emissions, achieving the mutual goals of promoting a strong economy and protecting the health of our communities.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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