By Steve Blankinship, Associate Editor
Dallas-based TXU has adopted an unprecedented approach to building one of the most dramatic expansions of baseload generating capacity in U.S. history. The company has proposed a binding contract with the State of Texas requiring TXU to reduce key air emissions by 20 percent while adding more than 9,000 MW of coal-fired capacity.
The Martin Lake plant is one of four TXU lignite-fired plants to be upgraded for best available control technology. Photo courtesy of TXU
In recent months, permit requests have been filed to build 17 new coal-fired power plants in the Texas. Texas Governor Rick Perry has issued an executive order requesting that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) expedite consideration of power plant permit requests.
TXU Generation, which wants to build 11 of the 17 proposed plants, has vowed to voluntarily reduce air emissions by 20 percent and asked the TCEQ to implement a system-wide cap of key emissions for the company’s existing and proposed coal and lignite-fired power plants. TXU’s plan includes spending up to $500 million for voluntary emission reductions, reached through fuel switching and retrofitting control technology on existing units and up to $2 billion for BACT on the 11 expansion units.
For TXU, the key emissions cap will be 20 percent lower than 2005 levels, despite adding needed generating capacity to meet consumer needs. TXU says its new plants will add no new key emissions since they will be more than offset by the company’s reductions. TXU’s coal fleet emission rates per MW/hr would fall nearly 70 percent.
TXU’s last baseload capacity addition was in 1993 with the completion of the 1,150 MW Unit 2 at the Comanche Peak nuclear plant. Since that time, power consumption within Texas’ intrastate grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has increased more than 37 percent. Most of that demand has been met by gas-fired capacity built almost exclusively by independent power producers under the state’s deregulated retail electricity market. Between 1998 and 2004, 22 GW of combined cycle capacity was added to the Texas market.
In its letter to the state environmental quality board, TXU affirmed its plan to add 9,079 MW of coal-fired capacity, more than doubling its existing baseload generating capacity. The company also formally asked to cap NOX, SO2 and mercury emissions at levels 20 percent below what they were in 2005. As a result, approximately 55,000 tons of SO2, 9,000 tons of NOX and 1,000 pounds of mercury would be removed from the air in Texas annually.