A plan to create a hydrogen power plant and sequester the resulting carbon in Kern County inched ahead as the California Public Utilities Commission gave Southern California Edison the go-ahead to spend $30 million on related studies. Regulators unanimously agreed February 20 to fund 28 feasibility studies and a preliminary engineering report evaluating stripping out hydrogen from petroleum coke and converting it into low polluting fuel. \u201cThis is one of those cases where the stars align properly,\u201d said commissioner John Bohn. He complained that the order made an exception to regulators\u2019 policies but noted, \u201cIt\u2019s appropriate to make an exception.\u201d Edison asked for approval of this investment outside the formal public hearing process and through an \u201cadvice letter.\u201d The \u201cstars,\u201d as commission president Mike Peevey explained, include a facility that would crack the waste of refineries--petroleum coke--into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This proposed project is a 250 MW facility that would be powered by petroleum coke or coal in Kern County, at a location still to be determined. About 90 percent of the power plant\u2019s carbon would be stored underground in the state\u2019s oil producing lands if the project goes according to the plan. It is a joint research project with Hydrogen Energy, a firm owned by BP and Rio Tinto. Aside from the company\u2019s proposed project in Kern County, it has three outside the United States, two of which have fizzled. A hydrogen power project slated for Scotland was canceled in May 2007. The requisite financial policy incentive \u201cwas not available in the timeframe to enable this project to proceed,\u201d said Sam Moylan-Heydt, Hydrogen Energy spokesperson. A planned facility in Western Australia was halted because the geologic formation that the carbon would have been pumped into was \u201cfound unsuitable for permanent storage,\u201d according to the company. Aside from the California project, the company still has one active facility proposal in Abu Dhabi. The company\u2019s technology is not wholly unique. For instance, Edison affiliate Mission Energy is involved in a similar deal with BP in Los Angeles County that would involve stripping out hydrogen from petroleum coke to make energy. The carbon dioxide would be used for enhanced oil recovery in nearby fields. The Division of Ratepayer Advocates urged the commission to look into possible cross subsidization of the two related projects.