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2012-06-21

LCRA General manager responds to claims against Fayette Power Project

Courtesy LCRA

Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Becky Motal this week said the latest notification of an intent to sue from the Environmental Integrity Project is wasteful, costly and unnecessary.

"This notice of intent to file yet another lawsuit with similar allegations as in a previous suit is completely unwarranted and harassing," Motal said. "FPP is one of the cleanest and most efficiently operated coal plants in Texas, and I am proud of the conscientious, environmentally responsible work our employees do providing electricity to more than a million people in Central Texas."

Motal said LCRA has received a notice of intent to sue from the Environmental Integrity Project representing the Texas Campaign for the Environment. The notice alleges claims of Clean Air Act violations at the Fayette Power Project (FPP) near La Grange.

The new notice alleges that FPP's particulate matter emissions exceeded permit limits. The environmental groups made similar allegations in a suit filed in March 2011. LCRA strongly denies that emissions at FPP violate the Clean Air Act and will vigorously defend its plant operations.

The 2011 suit brought six claims alleging violations at FPP, but the plaintiff quickly withdrew two of them. On March 28 of this year, the judge in the case granted LCRA's motion to dismiss three of the four remaining claims. The fourth claim, which also involves unfounded allegations related to particulate matter emissions, is now in the discovery phase.

From the fuel it burns - low-sulfur coal - to its plant operations, FPP keeps emissions well below levels allowed by law, said Motal. FPP has been recognized as one of the cleanest coal-burning power plants in the state. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has awarded FPP its gold level recognition in its Clean Texas Program for going beyond regulatory requirements to reduce impacts on the environment.

LCRA and Austin Energy, which owns half of Units 1 and 2 at the three-unit plant, spent more than $400 million adding flue gas desulfurization equipment, or scrubbers, to Units 1 and 2. They now remove more than 95 percent of SO2. FPP also completed improvements to reduce NOx emissions by 65 to 70 percent six years before it was required.

"FPP complies with all permit limits, and in most cases emissions are well below levels set by federal and state authorities," Motal said.

She said the ongoing repetition of similar claims against FPP is expensive and will eventually be passed on to ratepayers.

The Fayette Power Project generates 1,625 megawatts of electricity for wholesale customers in Central Texas.

LCRA and Austin Energy placed the first two units into operation in 1979 and 1980. Unit 3, solely owned by LCRA, began operations in 1988.