It’s time to retire old, polluting coal plants. Here are two studies that explain why.

Addressing Pollution from Legacy Coal Power Plants in Texas

Prepared by: Daniel Cohan, Ph.D.

As Energy Future Holdings faces an uncertain financial future, three of its legacy coal-fired power plants from the former TXU feature prominently in the energy and air quality challenges confronting Texas. These 1970’s vintage facilities – Big Brown, Martin Lake, and Monticello – are among the leading emitters of air pollutants and greenhouse gases in Texas. Their emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – 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 NOx emissions will be needed in order for these regions to attain air quality standards for ozone, a pollutant that can cause respiratory illness and premature mortality. Their emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) have been modeled to exceed SO2 standards up to 10 miles downwind of each plant, and contribute to unhealthful particulate matter over far longer distances. Ozone and particulate matter increasingly have been linked to illness and mortality, prompting the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten air pollution standards for these pollutants. Meanwhile, these three power plants ranked nationally among the top five emitters of mercury, a potent neurotoxin linked to IQ impairment and other developmental problems in children.

legacy coal chart

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The Case to Retire Big Brown, Monticello and Martin Lake Coal Plants

Three Financially Mismanaged, Unprofitable, Outmoded and Worthless Coal Plants in North Texas

By Tom Sanzillo, TR Rose Associates

This study shows why the replacement of three coal fired power plants built in the 1970’s (Big Brown, Monticello and Martin Lake) is a financial and environmental necessity. The plants, currently owned by Energy Future Holding/Luminant and serving North Texas are financially mismanaged, cannot compete profitably in the current market, require pollution control upgrades that are unaffordable and have suffered deep losses in market value.

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Transmission lines leading to Luminate Comanche Peak

Transmission lines leading to Luminate Comanche Peak


September 17, 2015

Judge clears Energy Future to move ahead on selling Oncor to Hunts

WILMINGTON, Del. — Almost 18 months after filing for bankruptcy, Texas’ largest power operator Energy Future Holdings was cleared Thursday to move ahead on its plan to break up the company and settle its $40 billion in debts.

With hopes of getting out of court by spring, Energy Future plans to hand its power plants and the retail business TXU Energy to senior creditors, while the transmission business Oncor will be sold to a group led by Dallas billionaire Ray L. Hunt.

It was a quiet conclusion to what had the makings of a potentially high-stakes showdown between Energy Future and an aggressive group of creditors arguing the current restructuring plan is unlikely to succeed. By the time teams of dark-suited attorneys made their way into court Thursday morning though, the two sides had agreed to a temporary truce.

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Aug. 2, 2015

Utilities Hope Texas Plays Ball on Clean Air Plan

President Obama is set to unveil the nitty-gritty of his sweeping, state-by-state plan to fight climate change Monday — his most determined effort yet to tackle the effects of global warming by reshaping the nation’s power sector.

When he does, no one doubts that Texas will sue.

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July 31, 2015
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San Antonio a winner under Clean Power Plan

CPS Energy is well positioned to meet the goals of EPA’s new Clean Power Plan, a rule designed to reduce global warming pollution from power plants. San Antonio will come out a winner due to CPS Energy’s foresight in developing renewable energy, such as solar and wind, and the increased use of energy efficiency to reduce the amount of electricity needed.

Several years ago, CPS Energy was under pressure from SEED Coalition, Neighborhoods First Alliance, Jefferson Heights Neighborhood Association and others to retire the old and polluting Deely coal plants. The settlement reached in the Spruce 2 coal plant case, local citizen activism, and the leadership of Mayors Julián Castro and Phil Hardberger, CPS Energy’s Doyle Beneby, and Solar San Antonio have all helped put the utility on a clean energy path, positioned well to exceed the EPA’s new global warming requirements.

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July 7, 2015

Buffett Scores Cheapest Electricity Rate With Nevada Solar Farms

Warren Buffett’s Nevada utility has lined up what may be the cheapest electricity in the U.S., and it’s from a solar farm.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s NV Energy agreed to pay 3.87 cents a kilowatt-hour for power from a 100-megawatt project that First Solar Inc. is developing, according to a filing with regulators.

That’s a bargain. Last year the utility was paying 13.77 cents a kilowatt-hour for renewable energy. The rapid decline is a sign that solar energy is becoming a mainstream technology with fewer perceived risks. It’s also related to the 70 percent plunge in the price of panels since 2010, and the fact that the project will be built in Nevada, the third-sunniest state.

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February 9, 2015

Climate Is Big Issue for Hispanics, and Personal

LA home with refinery in background

WASHINGTON — Alfredo Padilla grew up in Texas as a migrant farmworker who followed the harvest with his parents to pick sugar beets in Minnesota each summer. He has not forgotten the aches of labor or how much the weather — too little rain, or too much — affected the family livelihood.

Now an insurance lawyer in Carrizo Springs, Tex., he said he was concerned about global warming.

"It’s obviously happening, the flooding, the record droughts," said Mr. Padilla, who agrees with the science that human activities are the leading cause of climate change. "And all this affects poor people harder. The jobs are more based on weather. And when there are hurricanes, when there is flooding, who gets hit the worst? The people on the poor side of town".

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