Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Coming Reductions in Delaware's Air Emissions

Delaware is poised to see a radical reduction in air emissions over the next three years. Recently reported developments at Delaware's dirtiest power plants promise to reduce the state's total air emissions from industrial sources by more than half by 2013.

Earlier this year, the Texas based energy firm Calpine
bought the Edge Moor Energy Center from Pepco Holdings, Inc. Two weeks ago, the News Journal reported that Calpine has already converted the plant from coal power to natural gas.

The
News Journal reports that NRG has been authorized to issue $57 million in tax exempt recovery bonds by Sussex County as part of the firm's plans to invest $366 million in emissions controls in its Indian River Power Plant. The state had already authorized the issuance of $190 million in revenue bonds for the project. These bonds will be backed by NRG, and will not incur any state or local government liability.

NRG has already committed to shutting down the three older units at the plant, with the last to go off line by 2013, and estimates air emissions will be reduced by as much as 93 percent. The
News Journal reports that Bill Zak of Citizens for Clean Power is delighted with NRG's plans: "On balance, it's a marvelous development. It's going to be fantastically cleaner."

Zak is not exaggerating the significance of the plan. According to Delaware's
2009 Toxic Release Inventory, the Indian River Power Plant accounted for 55.2 percent of total industrial air emissions in the state. The two power plants together accounted for 72.8 percent of total air emissions.

If NRG meets its projection for reductions at Indian River, Delaware's total air emissions would be cut by 51.3 percent by 2013. I don't have data from Calpine on expected reductions at Hay Road, but if emissions there were cut in half, Delaware's total emissions would be cut by 60 percent in the next three years. Calpine's total emissions may not be cut as sharply, as the company plans to add a gas powered unit designed to come on line as needed to meet demand.

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