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Luminant vows mercury reduction at Sandow 4

Company’s other coal-fired plants also targeted for reductions

Luminant says its upgrade projects “will offset 100 percent of mercury emissions” from new coal-fired plants. Reporter/Mike Brown Luminant says its upgrade projects “will offset 100 percent of mercury emissions” from new coal-fired plants. Reporter/Mike Brown The annual “Dirty Kilowatt” report released last week by an Austin-based environmental group mentions Luminant’s Sandow 4 power plant in a list of the nation’s top mercury emission emitters.

But Luminant says the Environmental Information Project (EIP) used 2008 figures in that report and in the past year the company has committed to a far-reaching effort to cut mercury emissions.

“Luminant is voluntarily installing sorbent injection systems on all our coal-fueled power plant units,” Ashley Monts, Luminant spokesperson, said.

She said installation of the new technology is complete at 10 of the company’s coal-fueled power plants, with active plans to finish installation at the two remaining units this year.

In fact, the EPI report calls for use of sorbent injection technology, saying it can “achieve mercury reductions up to 90 percent from coal-fired power plants (and) has been proven by more than 30 full scale demonstrations...”

Not in top 50

Sandow 4 did not appear on the top 50 list of the nation’s mercury emitters released by EIP.

The report listed Sandow 4 as emitting 472 pounds of mercury in 2008, the latest year for which publicly available data is available, according to EIP.

That puts Unit 4 seven pounds behind the No. 50-ranked power plant, Southern Company’s Barry plant near Mobile, Alabama.

The top two plants on that list are Luminant facilities in Texas.

No. 1 is the Martin Lake plant in Rusk County (1,764 pounds) and No. 2 is the Big Brown unit in Freestone County (1,596 pounds).

Luminant’s Monticello unit in Titus County is fifth at 1,596 pounds.

Mercury emission rate

When EIP calculates mercury emission hourly rates, Sandow 4 jumps up to No. 6 nationwide.

Its rate was calculated at 0.1153 pounds of mercury per gigawatt hour of power generated.

That figures represents the 472 pounds of mercury generated in 2008, divided by 4,093.55 gigawatt hours of electric generation.

No. 1 nationally is American Electric Power’s H. W. Pirkey Unit in Harrison County, Texas (0.2071 per kilowatt hour.

Other Texas Luminant plants: No. 3, Big Brown, 0.1781; No. 13, Martin Lake, 0.0919; No. 14 Monticello, 0.0987).

Optim Energ y’s Tw in Oaks plant in Robertson County is No. 8 (0.1103).

Unit 5

What about Unit 5?

It wasn’t online in 2008 and isn’t included in the EIP report but it’s mentioned in a somewhat confusing sentence:

“Two new Luminant plants currently under construction in Texas, Oak Grove and Sandow 5—are expected to come online in 2010 and are permitted to emit up to 1,632 pounds of mercury per year.”

Sandow 5 has been generating power since last August.

The EIP report reveals, in an end note, that the 1,632-pound figure was achieved by adding together the TCEQ permitted annual mercury emission figures for each facility, 1,440 pounds for Oak Grove 1 and 2, 192 for Sandow 5.

100 percent offset

Luminant says it sorbent injection project “will offset 100 percent of all mercury emissions from the three new coal-fueled power plants.”

“Additionally, in 2008, Luminant signed a multi-million dollar, six-year contract with ADA Environmental Services for the advanced carbon this new technology requires,” Monts said.

She added that Luminant “has been on the cutting edge of various mercury-control technologies and monitoring initiatives” and “will continue to meet all state and federal laws and rules regarding mercury and other emissions.”

“Luminant is currently doing more than any other company in the nation,” she said.


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