Groups Fear Luminant Will Simply Run Units Next Summer Without Cleaning Up the Air Emissions
Austin, TX – After receiving notice that Luminant Generation Company, LLC, has filed a Notification of Suspension of Operations for Monticello Units 1 and 2 with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), environmental groups called on Luminant to retire the units rather than idle them and be more forthcoming with long-term plans that will affect workers. While Luminant and Texas have been in the headlines repeatedly for their opposition to the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, the rule would effectively help Dallas/Fort Worth meet the minimum public health air quality standards for the first time in years. Yet, if Luminant only idles the plants, then chooses to run them at full capacity next summer, the implications for Dallas/Ft Worth’s air quality remain unclear.
“Luminant has been frightening Texans with claims that power will become scarce if the company is not allowed to continue polluting unabated. But other Texas utilities are cleaning up their act without difficulty, and this summer’s successful growth of coastal wind demonstrates there are multiple ways to meet Texas’ electricity needs.” said Jen Powis, representative of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “Indeed, the Public Utilities Commission and ERCOT both have multiple tools in their arsenal that can be used to ensure grid reliability as Texas moves beyond coal.”
Luminant states that the rule unfairly targets their existing generation, yet a review of the 2009 self-reported emissions inventory maintained by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality demonstrates that the three Luminant coal plants (Big Brown, Monticello, and Martin Lake) are the top 3 industrial polluters in Texas among nearly 2,000 industrial plants. They are exceptionally dirty plants:
- Combined they emit 25.5% of state industrial air pollution
- Combined they emit 33.8% of state industrial SO2 air pollution
- Combined they emit 11.4% of state industrial PM10 air pollution
- Combined they emit 10% of state industrial NOx air pollution
- Combined they emit 37.6% of state industrial CO air pollution
Comparing Luminant’s three coal plants only to other coal plants, however, shows an even more problematic tale. Luminant’s Big Brown, Monticello, and Martin Lake are:
- 46.8% of all Texas coal plant emissions (19 existing coal plants)
- 41.5% of all Texas coal plant SO2 emissions
- 36.0% of all Texas coal plant PM10 emissions
- 30.6% of all Texas coal plant NOx emissions
- 71.7% of all Texas coal plant CO emissions
“We call on Luminant to move beyond posturing and sit down at the negotiating table with EPA in good faith to discuss responsible retirement plans for these plants, like CPS Energy in San Antonio is doing. This approach would be good for consumers, our health and the environment,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen’s Texas office.
“In order to protect the health of Texans, Luminant must plan now to retire these old coal plants. Monticello has often been the worst emitter of toxic mercury pollution in the nation,” said Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “We don’t believe Luminant’s plans to retrofit these plants are economically feasible given the company’s poor financial health. Their plans rely on multiple expensive changes, any of which could simply fail to materialize. Luminant should commit to retire Monticello Units 1 and 2, and work with ERCOT, EPA, and public interest groups to prioritize clean energy generation.”
Public Citizen, Sierra Club and SEED Coalition call on Luminant to cease the use of scare tactics, and commit to a plan to retire its Monticello Units 1 and 2, paving the way for clean energy in North Texas. All three groups also call on ERCOT and the PUC to move forward by implementing new rules for energy storage, distributed renewable energy like onsite solar, energy efficiency, demand response, and a restructuring of the Emergency Interruptible Load System to assure there are maximum options available next summer.
“The Legislature has already granted broad authority to ERCOT and PUC to expand our use of these tools,” noted Cyrus Reed, with Sierra Club. “Now it’s time for them to step up to the plate, begin implementing these measures, and using their time to create solutions rather than fight clean air protections.”
Jen Powis, Beyond Coal Campaign, Texas Sierra Club