Wednesday, June 24, 2009

While deals get cut in DC, a landmark greenhouse gas development in California

It is painful to learn of the latest negotiations over the climate legislation. The farm lobby appears to have won some of its key objectives. These changes will not help the cause of making real reductions in greenhouse gases. And even some strong supporters of the Waxman-Markey legislation are now holding their noses, as if on the perimeter of a hog farm.

Outside the Beltway, there is better news. The item below just crossed the Business Wire.

The local air pollution agency in the San Francisco bay area has proposed an air pollution permit for a new gas-fired electric power plant, planned by Calpine and General Electric.

It would be the first power plant in the nation with a federally enforceable limit on greenhouse gas emissions. This really is a landmark development. It could set the bar for future power projects. It makes the blather about so-called “clean coal” seem more than ever like political pork.

Details are here: http://www.baaqmd.gov/Divisions/Engineering/Public-Notices-on-Permits/2009/062309-15487/Russell-City-Energy-Center.aspx

Here is the press release:

June 24, 2009 08:18 AM Eastern Daylight Time

Calpine’s Russell City Energy Center to be Nation’s First
Power Plant With Federal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limit
Calpine to build 600-MW power plant,
create economic stimulus for San Francisco Bay Area

Calpine Corporation
Media Relations:
National, Industry Media
Norma Dunn, 713-830-8883
norma.dunn@calpine.com
or
Bay Area Media
Jason Barnett, 415-227-9700
or
Investor Relations:
Andre Walker, 713-830-8775
Andrew@calpine.com



HAYWARD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) notified interested stakeholders that it is seeking public input on a draft permit to construct what will be the nation’s first power plant with a federal limit on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.

Calpine Corporation (NYSE: CPN) has been working in cooperation with the BAAQMD to respond to comments submitted by a number of environmental and local public interest groups, including the Sierra Club and EarthJustice, regarding the company’s proposed 600-megawatt Russell City Energy Center to be built in Hayward, Calif. As a result, Calpine has agreed to changes in the project’s permit conditions, including reductions in a number of emission limits, which will make it one of the cleanest natural gas-fired power plants in the nation.

“By taking this historic and early action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, Calpine demonstrates that our long-term commitment to environmental stewardship is fundamental to our corporate philosophy,” said Jack A. Fusco, president and chief executive officer of Calpine. “The combined-cycle technology allows us to commit to lower emissions while increasing efficiency – meaning we use less natural gas and emit fewer greenhouse gases while delivering more power to our customers and ultimately the American consumer.”

Powered by cleaner burning natural gas, Russell City Energy Center will use advanced combined-cycle technology, which captures and uses the exhaust from gas turbines to generate additional energy in a steam turbine, resulting in an approximate 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency.

“As a physicist with NASA and the Lawrence Livermore Lab, I studied climate change starting in the 1970s. I support the project because it will preserve Hayward’s air quality, while replacing power generated from plants that produce nearly twice the greenhouse gases and more than twice the amount of other pollutants,” said Councilman Bill Quirk of the Hayward City Council. “Equally as important, the project also is an economic stimulus for Hayward, spurring economic growth, creating jobs for local residents and generating millions of dollars in new revenue, a real benefit in these tough times,” he added.

Russell City Energy Center will produce significant economic benefits for the City of Hayward and the Bay Area, creating 650 union construction jobs, injecting millions into the local economy and generating approximately $30 million in one-time tax revenue and $4 million annually in property tax revenue to help fund local government services. Construction is expected to begin in 2010 and be completed in 2012.

The facility will use 100 percent reclaimed water from the City of Hayward’s Water Pollution Control Facility for cooling and will convert it into steam for electricity production. This environmentally responsible process conserves water and prevents four million gallons of wastewater per day from being discharged into San Francisco Bay.

Russell City Energy Center also will donate $10 million to help build a new library for Hayward and is working with stakeholders to make improvements and support programs that enhance the enjoyment of the San Francisco Bay shoreline.

“This project responds to the national call for new clean energy sources that will move our nation toward green energy and protects the electrical grid in the Bay Area,” said Barry Luboviski, secretary-treasurer, Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County, AFL-CIO. “We are looking forward to getting the project underway and putting people back to work.”

The California Energy Commission granted a license for the plant in September 2007 and the California Public Utilities Commission approved a 10-year power purchase agreement in April 2009 under which PG&E will purchase the electricity generated by the plant.

“This is an important project for the City of Hayward. We are proud to support a project that is not only environmentally responsible but also makes a significant investment in Hayward,” said Jim Wieder, President & CEO of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce.

The new permit conditions for the facility are set forth in a draft additional Statement of Basis made available today by the BAAQMD at www.baaqmd.gov. In this document, the BAAQMD finds that by assuring the plant uses the most energy-efficient technology to generate power from fossil fuels, the proposed plant will limit its emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. BAAQMD is soliciting input from interested stakeholders at this time and intends to issue an official notice of the proposed permit decision, upon scheduling a formal public comment period and hearing.

Russell City Energy Center has agreed to a limit on the plant’s overall efficiency or “heat rate,” which is the amount of fuel it takes to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity. At baseload conditions, the plant is designed to operate at an efficiency rate that results in approximately 800 lbs of CO2 per megawatt-hour of power delivered to the grid. This is less than half the 1,700 lbs of CO2 per megawatt-hour emitted by even the most advanced coal-fired generating technologies. It also is substantially lower than the California Public Utilities Commission’s 1,100 lbs/megawatt-hour standard, which applies to investor-owned utilities entering into new long-term power purchase contracts.

Compliance with this limit will be demonstrated by conducting an annual performance test, using the industry-standard method developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for measuring overall plant efficiency. This annual test is intended to ensure that the plant continues to be operated and maintained to achieve expected efficiency levels over time.

The Russell City Energy Center project is jointly owned by Calpine Corporation, which holds a 65 percent stake and serves as managing partner, and an affiliate of GE Energy Financial Services, which holds a 35 percent non-managing member interest.

For more information about Russell City Energy Center visit www.russellcityenergycenter.com.

About Calpine

Calpine Corporation is helping meet the needs of an economy that demands more and cleaner sources of electricity. Founded in 1984, Calpine is a major U.S. power company, currently capable of delivering over 24,000 megawatts of clean, cost-effective, reliable and fuel-efficient electricity to customers and communities in 16 states in the United States and Canada. Calpine owns, leases, and operates low-carbon, natural gas-fired, and renewable geothermal power plants. Using advanced technologies, Calpine generates electricity in a reliable and environmentally responsible manner for the customers and communities it serves. Please visit www.calpine.com for more information.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New report finds stunning (good) results on diesel cleanup potential, while Obama and Congress fumble

This report came out yesterday from the Health Effects Institute and hasn’t received anywhere near the publicity it perhaps should have.

http://www.healtheffects.org/Pubs/ACES-Phase1-PressRelease.pdf?id=310

The study found that modern pollution controls are eliminating 99% of the particle soot emissions from big new diesel engines used in trucks and buses.

The real-world results are almost 90% cleaner than required under EPA standards.

These are stunning results. They demonstrate just how effective modern pollution controls are in cleaning up diesel soot from new engines.

And the timing is ironic: just last evening, the House Appropriations Committee rejected efforts to increase spending to apply similar pollution controls to existing diesel engines. The Obama Administration had put a meager $60 million in the budget for this effort. There are millions of these engines out there, spewing away and causing thousands of premature deaths a year.

This is an area where both the Obama Administration and Congress are really dropping the ball.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Consumer Caution: Will the Waxman Markey bill really protect your interests?

Clean Air Watch has produced a brief white paper exploring the provisions of the Waxman-Markey climate bill aimed at protecting consumers. And we have reason to be concerned.

See at http://docs.google.com/View?id=dndqqzt_3gj4w9thn

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Navistar sues to block EPA diesel truck pollution standards


Truck and engine manufacturer Navistar Inc. has challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to certify heavy-duty diesel engines using selective catalytic reduction to meet the agency’s 2010 standards for emissions of nitrogen oxides.

Navistar tried to go cheap on pollution control technology and has not kept up with its competitors.

So now it is trying to use the courts so it can keep selling less-effective technology. (Earlier, EPA rejected Navistar’s call for a delay in the standards for nitrogen oxides, which are scheduled to begin with new trucks in the 2010 model year.)

If Navistar wins, breathers will suffer.

The Warrenville, Ill.-based manufacturer has asked a federal appeals court to review EPA’s certification requirements for SCR engines and whether the agency must go through the lengthy process of amending its 2001 rule setting emissions limits for diesel engines before it certifies engines using SCR.

Navistar is the only North American truck manufacturer that is not using SCR to meet the new standard of 0.2 grams of NOx per brake-horsepower hour and has publicly called for a softening of the looming deadline to allow fleets to purchase 2007-compliant technology after Jan. 1, 2010.