Sierra Club says plug officially pulled on Big Cajun I project

The Sierra Club on April 11 applauded the fact that Louisiana Generating, after effectively killing the Big Cajun I repowering project quite a while ago, has now officially cancelled the project.

In a court filing, the company withdrew all permit applications for the plant and will not pursue new construction at this site, the Sierra Club noted. Louisiana Generating is a unit of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG).

While the club refers to this as a coal plant, LaGen’s plan had been for a 230-MW fluidized bed combustion unit that would primarily burn another solid fuel, petroleum coke, though it would have had the permitted capability to burn coal.

“Cancelling Big Cajun I is part of a strong national trend away from new coal and toward cleaner forms of energy,” said Jordan Macha, Gulf States Representative with the Sierra Club. “Louisiana has been dominated by conventional and polluting sources of energy for too long, but now our state has a real opportunity to grow the clean energy economy. Clean energy produced here in Louisiana, combined with energy efficiency, will contribute to clean, healthy air and will grow our economy for the long-term.”

Sierra Club and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) had challenged Louisiana Generating’s Big Cajun I proposal since it was first announced in 2007. Louisiana Generating currently operates natural gas-fired units at the Big Cajun I site with a total of 430 MW (net) of capacity, and had proposed a switch to petcoke. In 2008, Sierra Club and LEAN challenged air permits issued for Big Cajun I, and Sierra Club also sued Louisiana Generating for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

While Louisiana Generating was trying to keep the state tied to outdated power, the Louisiana Public Service Commission and state government have considered and implemented a complete set of policies to jumpstart the clean energy economy, the Sierra Club said. All state facilities are required to set efficiency goals, and new state-funded construction and renovation projects have some of the most ambitious efficiency goals in the region. Also, the PSC launched a pilot three-year Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2010, and utilities are now building the infrastructure to support renewable projects. By 2013, every utility in Louisiana will generate 3% of its electricity from renewable or clean energy sources, the Sierra Club said.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.