Legislation could delay coal plant permits

Legislation could delay coal plant permits

Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, on Wednesday introduced legislation calling for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to place a six-month moratorium on permit approval for new coal plants in Texas.

Power companies plan to build 18 new coal plants in Texas, including 11 planned by Dallas-based TXU Corp. Nine of the proposed plants are in a 50 mile radius of McLennan County, where Anderson’s district is located. The governor, last year, signed an executive order fast-tracking the permitting process, which reduced a process that used to take 18 months or longer to as quick as six months.

“Governor Perry acted prudently in 2005 when he fast-tracked the permitting process for new coal plants,” Anderson said. “At that time the price of natural gas was more than $15 per MMBtu and two hurricanes had created serious production problems in the Gulf. Today, however, natural gas is in the $7 range and the Gulf production capacity has been restored.”

Anderson said the legislature doesn’t want to further endanger areas that are not in attainment with federal clean air laws or cause Central Texas to become a nonattainment area because of coal pollution.

Anderson also said that Texas, with more renewable energy potential than any other state, is not experiencing an electrical generating capacity crisis.

“We now have time to carefully analyze the effect of creating 18 new pulverized coal plants in Texas,” Anderson said. “We must look at the cumulative effect on our environment.”

TXU spokesman Tom Kleckner said the legislature should not support the moratorium, which the company said would delay much needed power supplies and will have a “chilling effect” on attracting capital for the state’s energy infrastructure.

It also would delay other benefits of the coal plant project, including lower prices and emissions reductions.

“The TCEQ has a deliberative process to issue air permits for advanced new coal plants that meet the state’s stringent standards and requirements,” Kleckner said. “TXU’s Oak Grove project has already been in the permitting process for 18 months. As Oak Grove is one of the few projects that could add to supplies in time for the crucial 2009 summer peak season, delays would represent a real problem for the state.”

Published January 24, 2007 by the Dallas Business Journal

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