Thursday, September 15, 2011

Texas' power provider closing units over EPA rule

The largest power generator in Texas said Monday that unless its lawsuits prevent a new EPA rule from taking effect early next year, it will close a large section of one power plant, which could lead to rolling power outages in the summer.

Dallas-based Luminant filed one federal lawsuit Monday to remove Texas from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which is to take effect Jan. 1. The company plans to file another suit later this week to try to block the rule completely, Luminant spokesman Allan Koenig said.

The rule requires Texas and 26 other states to reduce smokestack pollution causing smog and soot in downwind states - where it combines with other contaminants, making it impossible for those states to meet air quality standards. The new rule replaces a 2005 Bush administration proposal that a federal court rejected.

Under the EPA's initial proposal, Texas' power plants were required to address only summertime smog-forming pollution. But in July, the EPA announced Texas must reduce sulfur dioxide, responsible for acid rain and soot, and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to both smog and soot.

The only way Luminant can comply is by shutting down two of three units at one plant and making other changes, which will eliminate 500 jobs and reduce generating capacity by 1,300 megawatts, Koenig said. The company has already reduced emissions with some of its previous projects, he said.


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