Luminant cutbacks spare local facilities
Sandow Power Plant and Three Oaks Mine have apparently “outrun” Luminant mines at Monticello and Big Brown locations in east Texas and two of the three power plant units at Monticello.
Luminant announced Monday it would close those facilities, costing about 500 jobs, if it is unsuccessful in a lawsuit to force the Environmental Protection Agency to alter new guidelines which would essentially reduce the use of lignite coal.
But no changes are anticipated at Three Oaks Mine, in Lee and Bastrop counties, and Sandow Power Plants 4 and 5 near Rockdale.
Together Sandow and Three Oaks employ about 400 persons in the Rockdale area.
INVESTMENT— In fact Sandow 4 was mentioned as one of three Luminant locations on the receiving end of a “substantial investment program” to upgrade existing environmental facilities.
The company said it would invest approximately $280 million by the end of 2012 and estimates it will spend more than $1.5 billion by the decades end.
But the key words Monday for the Rockdale area to hear were by Ashley Barrie, Luminant spokesperson, who told The Reporter: “Beyond that (the investment program), there is no planned impact to the (Sandow power) plant or to the Three Oaks Mine.”
That’s in line with the situation’s original analysis in July when the EPA annou nced it s new Cros s-St at e Ai r Po llution Ru le (CSAPR).
It added Texas to the list of 27 states requir ed to further reduc e sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.
The move was widely believed to target use of lign ite at Texas’ older power plant units.
Sandow 5istwoyears old, coming on- line in Augu st, 2009.
Sandow 4 was constructed in the 1970’ s, upgraded in the mid- 1980 s and received new Selective Cata lyt ic Converter (SCR) tech - nology in the early 2000s.
Lumina nt coal- fire d un its in eas t Texas are much older. Big Brown is 39 year s old, Montic el lo 33 and Marti n Lake 32.
CLOSINGS— Luminant listed the following changes Monday if its lawsuit is unsuccessful:
• Units 1 and 2 at Monticello (nearMou ntPleasan t)willbe idled. The two units have a capacity of 1,200 megaw atts.
•Monticel loUnit3willcon- tinue to op erate but w ill ceas e using Texas lign ite and beg in to oper ate on 10 0 pe rcent Powder River Basi n (Wyoming) Coa l.
• Thermo and Winfield Mines (ne ar Sulphur Springs) wil l cea se lignite mining.
•Big Brow nUnits1and 2 (Frees tone C ount y) w ill ceas e using Tex as lignite and will begin to op erate on (Wyom ing) coal.
• Big Brown/ Turlington Mine will cease lign ite min ing.
Lumina nt said mining re cla - mation ac tivities w ill cont inu e atTher mo, Winfieldand Big Brown/ Turlington.
In addition to Sandow 4, Lumin ant said it s “inve st ment pro - g ram” wou ld inc lud e fac i lities atMont icello Uni t3and the Martin La ke Power Pl ant in Rusk Count y.
“We spent the last two mont hs identif y ing all possible opt ions to me et the requirements of the new rule,” Lu mina nt CE O David Ca mpbell sa id. “However, meeting this unre alistic (Jan. 1) deadli ne also forces us to take steps th at will id le facilities and result in the loss of jobs,” he said.
L AWSUIT— Lumina nt’s lawsuit was filed Monday before the U. S. Court of Appeals, ask ing t he cour t to invalid at e CSA PR regarding Texas, which was added at mid- summer.
The suit note s EPA has man - dated Texas slash its SO2 emi s- sions by ha lf and great ly reduc e NOX emissions in le ss than five months, while the “standard time fra me” for permitt ing, const ructing and instal ling new em ission controls is sever al years.
Lumin ant also maintains the new requirements will seriously jeopardize the ability of the state’s elec tr ic grid to supply power.