NRG Energy coal-fired units at Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania will stop burning coal earlier than previously anticipated as part of a legal settlement with the states of New Jersey and Connecticut, according to NRG.
The pair of power generation units at the Portland Generating Station, which have a combined capacity of more than 400 MW, will stop burning coal by June 1, 2014. They were scheduled to be deactivated January 6, 2015. NRG will also invest $1 million to benefit the environment in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The settlement was made by a federal consent decree, which will be provided to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for review and comment for 45 days and then must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit brought by the states alleged the power station was not in compliance with the federal Clean Air Act based on work done before it was acquired by NRG. Although NRG stated it operates the plant in full compliance with permits issued by Pennsylvania and denies any violations of the Clean Air Act, the company stated in a release it “agreed with New Jersey and Connecticut that settlement of this action is in the public interest and the most efficient means of resolving the dispute.”
Although the consent decree does not prohibit the two units to continue operations by using a fuel other than coal, NRG spokesman David Gaier said no decision has been made on whether the units will be converted after they are taken offline.
“We are looking at case-by-case basis at all our assets in the Northeast region to see if they are candidates for conversion,” he said, adding the company would look at economic, environmental and technical factors in making a decision.
The consent decree would allow for the units to continue to burn coal if PJM Interconnection LLC determines the deactivation of the units “would adversely affect the reliability of the transmission system absent upgrades to the transmission system” or if the U.S. Department of Energy or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission orders the units to remain operational to maintain reliability.