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Dallas County Medical Society vs. Luminant

Dallas County Medical Society vs. Luminant

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Published by Eric Nicholson
A Rice University professor's look at Texas' three dirtiest coal-fired power plants, and what can be done to clean them up.
A Rice University professor's look at Texas' three dirtiest coal-fired power plants, and what can be done to clean them up.

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Published by: Eric Nicholson on Aug 28, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/13/2013

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Addressing Pollution fromLegacy Coal Power Plants in Texas
June 2013
Prepared by:
Daniel Cohan, Ph.D.
 
i
Table of Contents
Executive Summary
ii
1.
 
Air Quality Challenges in Texas
1.1 Ozone 11.2 Particulate Matter 51.3 Sulfur Dioxide 81.4 Mercury 91.5 Climate Change 11
2. Texas Electricity: Supply, Demand, and Impacts on Air Quality
2.1 Electricity Supply and Demand in Texas 142.2 The ERCOT System 172.3 TXU Legacy Power Plants 202.4 ERCOT Forecasts 212.5 Emissions from Coal-fired Power Plants in Texas 23
3. Options for Retrofitting or Replacing Legacy Coal Power Plants
 3.1 Option 1: Retrofit Emission Controls 323.2 Option 2: Replacement with New Capacity 363.3 Synthesis of Options 46
4. Policy Options
4.1 Disincentivizing High-Emitting Power 494.2 A Viable Market for Low-Emitting Power 494.3 Renewable Portfolio Standards 504.4 Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards 524.5 Conclusions 54
References
56
 
ii
Executive Summary:Addressing Pollution from Legacy Coal Power Plants in Texas
As Energy Future Holdings faces an uncertain financial future, three of its legacycoal-fired power plants from the former TXU feature prominently in the energy and airquality challenges confronting Texas. These 1970’s vintage facilities – Big Brown, MartinLake, and Monticello – are among the leading emitters of air pollutants and greenhousegases in Texas. Their emissions of nitrogen oxides (NO
x
) – more than 30,200 tons in 2011– have been shown to contribute to excess levels of ground-level ozone in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Tyler-Longview-Marshall regions. Substantial reductions in NO
x
 emissions will be needed in order for these regions to attain air quality standards forozone, a pollutant that can cause respiratory illness and premature mortality. Theiremissions of sulfur dioxide (SO
2
) have been modeled to exceed SO
2
standards up to 10miles downwind of each plant, and contribute to unhealthful particulate matter over farlonger distances. Ozone and particulate matter increasingly have been linked to illnessand mortality, prompting the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten air pollutionstandards for these pollutants. Meanwhile, these three power plants ranked nationallyamong the top five emitters of mercury, a potent neurotoxin linked to IQ impairmentand other developmental problems in children.Given the outsized contribution of these power plants to air pollutants andgreenhouse gases relative to electricity output in Texas, substantial emission reductionscould be achieved by installing retrofit pollution control devices or replacing the plantswith natural gas or renewable electricity generation (Figure E1). Retrofit controls suchas selective non-catalytic reduction or selective catalytic reduction, dry sorbents, andactivated carbon injection could substantially reduce emissions of NO
x
 , SO
2
 , andmercury respectively. However, these controls would entail hundreds of millions ofdollars of investments in aging facilities whose emission rates would continue to farexceed those of new power generators, at a time when low power prices have alreadyseverely impaired their financial viability.

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