Parties Come to Terms for Limestone Station Expansion
NRG Texas LLC, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc., has reached agreements with the Texas Clean Air Cities Coalition and Environmental Defense Fund on a number of commitments related to the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury. The coalition and the group have agreed to drop their opposition to the Limestone 3 permit application.
Both groups initially announced their intention to intervene in and oppose the permit application to add a third unit to Limestone Station. However, the parties worked together and discussed ways to meet Texas' demand for electricity and arrived at a solution that minimizes adverse environmental impacts.
"This agreement presents an excellent opportunity for emission reductions, beyond that which the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would have required," said Linda Koop, Dallas City Council Member and coalition chair. "The greenhouse gas reductions—50 percent—are particularly significant because the TCEQ does not consider carbon dioxide a pollutant and does not regulate or restrict carbon emissions."
"We applaud NRG committing to offset a significant part of its CO2 emissions from the Limestone 3 plant. CO2 is the gas that scientists tell us is the principal cause of global warming," said Jim Marston, Environmental Defense Fund state climate director. "Offsets, such as the projects that NRG has committed to invest in, are a low-cost way to get the large reductions in greenhouse gases that are necessary to prevent catastrophic impacts of global warming, and NRG has established a precedent for other electricity companies to follow."
The agreements include the following emissions reduction measures:
•Until a federal climate change program is implemented, NRG will offset or sequester 50 percent of the carbon generated by the new unit in a manner that is verifiable, which makes the carbon profile of this coal-fueled plant roughly equivalent to that of a gas-fueled plant. These efforts could include agricultural and forestry sequestration, retiring older, less efficient generation assets; bringing new wind or solar generation online; and post-combustion carbon capture and sequestration technology at the Washington Parish Plant;
•Sitewide nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions for all three units will not increase with the addition of the new unit and will decrease below the 2006 levels of the two existing units following startup;
•NRG will build or support the development of a utility-scale solar energy project in Texas, if economically feasible as determined by criteria in the agreement, or NRG will contribute to a trust that would fund significant Texas energy efficiency projects;
•NRG will commit to reduce water usage at the new plant by almost 60 percent (about 5,000 acre-feet per year) through conservation and use of advanced air cooling technology, helping to preserve one of Texas' most important natural resources;
•NRG will commit resources for a terrestrial sequestration pilot project in West Texas that will remove carbon from the atmosphere and alleviate pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer and a project to demonstrate that geologic sequestration of CO2 is an effective technique, sequestering a significant amount of carbon in the process. Both projects will be managed by Environmental Defense Fund;
•NRG will retrofit or replace a substantial portion of its non-road diesel equipment with Tier 2 or better, further reducing nitrogen oxides emissions; and
•NRG will not build another coal-fueled plant in Texas unless the plant uses Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, or ultra-supercritical coal technology, and sequesters or offsets at least 50 percent of the CO2 emissions of that future plant.
The Limestone Electric Generating Station expansion is part of the NRG Texas repowering program, which is designed to provide new, efficient and environmentally responsible power generation.
"NRG's new build portfolio is focused on helping to meet the growing energy needs of Texas with significantly less emissions per megawatt hour of power produced," said Thad Hill, president NRG Texas. "These projects also include investments in wind and natural gas generation and ultimately, bridge to zero-carbon, zero-emission nuclear power. Collectively, the carbon intensity of these new repowering projects will be 70 percent less than the current average in Texas."