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Louisiana Generating settles Clean Air Act suit

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana electric generating company, owned by NRG Energy Inc., has agreed to a settlement at its Big Cajun II coal-fired power plant, which will result in the elimination of more than 27,300 tons of emissions per year, federal regulators said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the proposed settlement involves Louisiana Generating's New Roads-based facility.

The deal, filed in federal court in Baton Rouge, will require Louisiana Generating to spend about $250 million to reduce air pollution, pay a $3.5 million civil fine and spend $10.5 million on environmental mitigation projects. The state will receive half of the civil penalty.

The proposed settlement is subject to a public comment period and final court approval.

"The Big Cajun II Power Plant is the largest source of illegal air pollution in Louisiana," said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This settlement will secure substantial reductions in harmful emissions from the plant which will have a beneficial impact on air quality for residents of Louisiana and downwind states, including low-income communities who have been historically overburdened with pollution. "

The reductions in emissions will occur through a combination of new pollution controls, natural gas conversion and annual emission caps at all three units at the Big Cajun II plant.

According to a release from the Justice Department, emissions of sulfur dioxide will be reduced by about 20,000 tons and nitrogen oxides by about 3,300 tons. Louisiana Generating will spend an estimated $250 million in capital costs to comply with the consent decree through the end of 2015. It also has agreed to further air pollution reductions by 2025, which will reduce sulfur dioxides by at least an additional 4,000 tons each year.

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