Aug. 9, 2007

Environmental Groups and NuCoastal Power Announce Precedent-Setting Agreement

Environmentalists Applaud Offsets of Carbon Dioxide and Mercury Emissions

Houston – A precedent-setting agreement announced today paves the way for the permitting of a 303-megawatt power plant in return for the plant owner’s commitment to offset 100 percent of the plant’s mercury and global warming emissions. The Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Public Citizen and the NuCoastal Power Corporation forged the agreement for the plant, which would burn petroleum coke as fuel and would be located at the site of the old Ennis Joslin power plant in Port Comfort, Texas.

This appears to be the first time any power plant in the nation has agreed to offset all its mercury emissions, and the first time a plant in Texas has agreed to offset its carbon dioxide emissions. The agreement ends opposition to the company’s request for a plant permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The state agency had approved the draft permit, but the SEED Coalition had contested it.

Under the terms of the agreement reached last week, the company will:

  • Offset 100 percent of its mercury reductions. NuCoastal agreed to an 80 percent reduction of mercury emissions at the plant, from 70 pounds per year to 14 pounds, and will lower that amount if mercury-control technology performs as expected. The remaining emissions would be offset by purchasing mercury emissions credits, a commitment that may be the first in the nation. 
  • Offset 100 percent of carbon dioxide emissions for the life of the plant. This commitment may be met through funding energy efficiency programs, shutting down a comparable source of global warming gases, building wind turbines, or investing in carbon dioxide separation and sequestration equipment as those technologies mature. A combination of these approaches may be chosen.

“Exposure to mercury, a toxic heavy metal, can lead to neurological damage, and children are especially at risk. NuCoastal deserves credit for reducing its mercury emissions significantly,” said Karen Hadden, executive director of the SEED Coalition. “The company will also buy credits in a trading system, which would equal the amount of the mercury it will emit, offsetting its mercury emissions. I don’t know of any other utility that has made this mercury commitment, and hopefully others will follow NuCoastal’s lead.”

“We firmly believe in this agreement and hope it sets a model for the electrical industry in the USA,” said NuCoastal’s representative Roy Hart. “We think that taking full responsibility for carbon dioxide and mercury emissions is the way forward and we’re proud to be in the forefront of this movement in the nation. We encourage our competitors, suppliers and the consumers to assist us make this settlement a model for the future.”

“The carbon dioxide commitment in this agreement sets a precedent for all future power plant cases in Texas,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “NuCoastal is the first power plant developer in Texas to agree to offset 100 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions. It will obtain these emissions through investing in methods proven to make real reductions, such as energy efficiency and weatherization of homes in Texas, investing in renewable energy, and shutting down an existing electric plant or separating carbon dioxide and sequestering it. NuCoastal has shown vision in its commitment to reducing the gases causing climate change and is creating change within the power industry.”

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