FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 21, 2012
Jenna Garland, (404) 281-6398
Historic Settlement Will Clean Up Louisiana’s Most Toxic Coal Plant
Settlement Agreement Will Bring Clean Energy Investments and Restoration Projects
BATON ROUGE, LA – The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with Louisiana Generating, the Louisiana branch of NRG Energy, which had allegedly violated the Clean Air Act at its Big Cajun II coal plant. The Big Cajun II plant, in New Roads, is Louisiana’s single-largest source of sulfur dioxide pollution. The settlement agreement, once final, will result in Louisiana Generating spending $250 million to install pollution control technology to reduce the toxic sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter pollution. The settlement agreement plans for one of the three coal-burning units at the plant to be powered with natural gas.
“Today’s settlement is a testament to how committed the EPA is to protecting Americans’ health,” said Jordan Macha, with Sierra Club. “Louisiana Generating’s Big Cajun coal plant is the single-largest source of smog pollution in the state, contributing to thousands of cases of asthma, millions of dollars in medical bills and lost productivity in the greater Baton Rouge area each year. Cleaning up this coal plant is a good first step for our health and our communities.”
Today’s settlement comes during a period of major changes in Louisiana’s energy economy. Louisiana is the only state in the Deep South with a renewable portfolio standard pilot program, proposed and implemented by the Public Service Commission. This clean energy standard is driving the development of renewable energy projects across the state, without raising electricity prices. The Commission is preparing to vote on an energy efficiency resource standard, prepared in partnership with key stakeholders over the past two years, which will set a statewide goal of energy savings for utilities. This program will save families millions of dollars each year in energy savings, as homes and businesses are improved to use less energy in a smarter way.
“In a state dominated by energy interests, the news that one of the state’s dirtiest coal plants will be cleaned up marks a real shift. Cleaning up the Big Cajun II coal plant is another strong step on the path toward building the clean energy economy in Louisiana,” Macha added. “Once the efficiency standard is implemented, Louisiana families will be able to enjoy the health and prosperity of a clean energy economy.”
According to the settlement agreement, Louisiana Generating and NRG Energy also commit to:
- Spend $10.5 million on environmental mitigation projects, including installing solar panels;
- Contribute $1 million total to forest and parks restoration projects;
- Invest up to $4 million in electric vehicle charging stations in Southern Louisiana.
The settlement can be viewed here: http://www.epa.gov/enforcement/air/documents/decrees/lagen-cd.pdf.