Luminant responds to environmental group attacks on three coal-fired plants

The Luminant power generating subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings on Oct. 15 posted to its website its view on “new” studies touted by environmental activist groups about ozone in North Texas and three of Luminant’s power plants.

“The studies will undoubtedly and mistakenly conclude that if only costly emission controls were mandated for these plants, the region would finally be in attainment for ozone,” said the company. “But, alas, there’s nothing new here. These studies with their predetermined results are sponsored by a small group of physicians with the Dallas County Medical Society and activists with Downwinders at Risk and are part of a continuing campaign that fits their political agenda. But, their claims don’t square with reality.”

The fact is the air quality in North Texas is greatly improved and getting better, even as the population, economy and vehicle miles have grown, the company said. As the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recently noted, the North Texas eight-hour ozone levels have improved 21% during the last 15 years while the population grew more than 29%.

The vast majority, about 80%, of NOx emissions in the 10-county North Texas area responsible for the formation of ozone comes from mobile sources – cars, trucks, construction equipment, airplanes and locomotives – not power plants., Luminant added.

The company said it has a strong environmental record at its coal-fired Big Brown, Martin Lake and Monticello plants. From 2008 to 2014, Luminant spent about $1 billion for environmental control equipment across the entire fleet. In 2015 alone it expects to spend approximately $100 million.

Two years ago, these same groups demanded the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality order these three plants to install cost prohibitive equipment even though the air quality in North Texas is becoming cleaner, an indication existing laws and rules are working, Luminant said. The TCEQ denied the activists’ request then and again this year.

The cost of more emissions equipment at the three plants would total almost $1.9 billion, the company said.

The “solutions” offered by the opposing parties include a new tax on generation, costly and unnecessary emissions controls and replacing the generation of these three plants with wind and solar at acost of $56 billion and $40 billion, respectively, said Luminant.

Martin Lake, Big Brown and Monticello are plants vital to powering Texas, the company said. Their value to the ERCOT grid has been ably demonstrated as records for peak demand kept being set in August. With a combined capacity of nearly 5,300 MW, these plants generate enough electricity to power more than one million Texas homes in periods of peak demand and more than 2.6 million homes in normal conditions.

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.