Two Entergy Arkansas Coal Plants Ranked on List of Nation's 'Dirtiest'

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 12:00 am  

“We’ve done things like make some of our plants more efficient,” he said. “We’ve made investments in our plants. We moved a good bit from our older gas plants to newer gas plants, and the newer gas plants are more efficient.”

But little work has been done to reduce emissions from coal plants.

“A lot of industrial engineers say there’s not a lot you can do,” Barlow said. “You’ve maybe got a 2 to 5 percent horizon you can meet, but a lot of industry folks say that beyond that it gets tremendously expensive.”

Taking Action

Regardless of whether Entergy’s coal plants can be improved, changes are taking place. New Environmental Protection Agency regulations, part of the Clean Air Act, are in the works.

In September, the EPA proposed standards for new coal and gas plants.

“The rule hasn’t been published in the Federal Register yet,” Barlow said. “Whenever we get done with the government shutdown, they will apply this rule, and it will apply to any plants that begin construction after that date.”

The coal plant standards, in particular, have been a cause of controversy since they require new plants to use an experimental technique called CCS, which traps emissions in geological formations.

For example, the Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership in 2008 and 2009 tested CCS methods in Appalachian coal seams. About 1,000 tons of CO2 were injected into the seams, and have so far remained stable.

The problem is CCS is both expensive and complicated.

“Most people would tell you it is untested,” Barlow said. “It’s been a subject of great consternation.”

The technique is “on the cutting edge,” Barlow said, and is bound to start a big legal battle as energy companies may claim that the EPA shouldn’t require a technique that might not be feasible.



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