GenOn Energy

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GenOn Energy, Inc., based in Houston, Texas, was an energy company that provided electricity to wholesale customers in the United States. In 2012 it was acquired by NRG Energy.

According to its website, GenOn Energy, Inc. (NYSE: GEN) "is one of the largest generators of wholesale electricity in the United States. With power generation facilities located in key regions of the country and a generation portfolio of approximately 24,200 megawatts. GenOn's portfolio of power generation facilities includes baseload, intermediate and peaking units using coal, natural gas and oil to generate electricity."[1] GenOn Energy is one of the largest power plant owners in the United States, and has an ownership stake in 18 power plants in Pennsylvania alone.[2]

On December 3, 2010, RRI Energy merged with Mirant to form GenOn Energy, and the corporate names and logos of both RRI Energy and Mirant were retired.[3] GenOn Northeast is a subsidiary of Houston-based GenOn Energy Inc., along with Public Service Enterprise Group of Newark, N.J. and Constellation Energy Group of Baltimore, as well as others.[2]

NRG Energy completed its acquisition of GenOn Energy in December 2012[4] for $1.7 billion.[5] GenOn's stock ceased trading and was exchanged for NRG stock.

Merger to create GenOn Energy

On April 11, 2010, RRI Energy and Atlanta-based Mirant Corp. announced an agreement to merge in a $1.6 billion all-stock deal, which would create one of the largest independent power plant operators in the country. The new company, to be named GenOn Energy, would be based in Houston but led by Mirant's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edward Muller until 2013. At that time he will retire and Mark Jacobs, the president and chief operating officer of RRI Energy, will become CEO of GenOn. The new company has a market capitalization of about $3 billion, owning or operating 47 plants in 12 states capable of generating more than 24,650 megawatts of power. The merger was completed on December 3, 2010.[3]

Coal Plants

Mirant (now GenOn) owned 14 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 3,462 MW of capacity:[6][7][8]

Plant Name State County Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions
Morgantown MD Charles 1970, 1971 1252 MW 6,209,000 tons 98,073 tons
Chalk Point MD Prince Georges 1964, 1965 728 MW 6,624,000 tons 49,591 tons
Dickerson MD Montgomery 1959, 1960, 1962 588 MW 3,357,000 tons 35,954 tons
Potomac River VA Alexandria 1949, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1957 514 MW 2,459,000 tons 10,589 tons
Lovett NY Rockland 1966, 1969 380 MW 2,021,000 tons 9,185 tons

RRI (now GenOn) owned 26 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 8,134 MW of capacity:[6][9][10]

Plant Name State County Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions
Conemaugh PA Indiana 1970, 1971 1872 MW 12,100,000 tons 8,037 tons
Keystone PA Armstrong 1967, 1968 1872 MW 11,500,000 tons 164,354 tons
Avon Lake OH Lorain 1949, 1970 766 MW 2,574,000 tons 43,479 tons
Cheswick PA Allegheny 1970 637 MW 3,161,000 tons 32,373 tons
Shawville PA Clearfield 1954, 1959, 1960 626 MW 3,107,000 tons 47,287 tons
Seward PA Indiana 2004 585 MW 3,269,000 tons 18,531 tons
Elrama PA Washington 1952, 1953, 1954, 1960 510 MW 2,440,000 tons 4,675 tons
Portland PA Northampton 1958, 1962 427 MW 2,159,000 tons 30,685 tons
New Castle PA Lawrence 1952, 1958, 1964 348 MW 1,669,000 tons 21,836 tons
Niles OH Trumbull 1954 266 MW 1,080,000 tons 22,490 tons
Titus PA Berks 1951, 1953 225 MW 1,209,000 tons 15,963 tons

Proposed coal plant closures

The City of Alexandria and GenOn Energy have reached an agreement to retire the Potomac River power plant by October 1, 2012, unless needed for reliability purposes.[11]

On February 29, 2012, GenOn said it will close seven of its coal generating stations by 2015 (and a natural gas station for a total 13 percent of its generating capacity), citing impending environmental regulations. The coal stations and proposed closing dates are:[12]

Environmental law and GenOn

Clean Air Settlement 2008

In 2005, the company's violations of the New Source Review requirements of the Clean Air Act led to negotiations between Mirant Mid-Atlantic (Mirant) (now GenOn) on the one hand and the U.S. EPA, Department of Justice and the states of Virginia and Maryland on the other. The settlement, announced on May 8, 2006, involved the elimination of nearly 29,000 tons of pollution in its four coal-fired electrical plants in Maryland and Virginia.

Under settlement terms, Mirant capped NOx emissions on a system-wide basis from its Chalk Point Generating Station in Maryland, Dickerson Generating Station in Maryland, Morgantown Generating Station in Maryland, and its Potomac River Generating Station in Virginia.[13] The EPA notes that Mirant will install and operate two Selective Catalytic Reduction devices to control for NOx emissions at its Morgantown facility, as well as Separated Over-Fire Air technology at the Potomac plant.

Mirant also paid a $500,000 civil penalty, which was divided between Virgina and the U.S. government. Additionally, Mirant will spend at least $1 million on nine separate projects to reduce fine particulate matter (PM) from its Potomac River Generating Station. "The reductions in NOx emissions required by this settlement will result in general improved air quality throughout the metropolitan area and the surrounding region," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Today's settlement is evidence of the continued progress that we are achieving through the cooperative enforcement efforts of federal and state agencies."

NOx contributes to the formation of acid rain and also increases low-level ozone, which causes smog, and fine PM causes haze.[14]

May, 2011: Virginia DEQ fines Potomac River Generating Station $275,000 for improper emissions controls

The GenOn (formerly Mirant) coal-burning power plant in Alexandria, VA, will pay $275,500 in civil penalties to the state for numerous permit violations, including excessive visible emissions. [15] According to the Alexandria Times, DEQ officials paid a surprise visit to the Royal Street plant last September and found that the coal being used contained more ash than the Virginia Air Pollution Control Law allows. The more ash coal contains, the higher the potential for harmful, microscopic matter to escape the power plant.[16]

June, 2011: GenOn pays $5 million settlement for Pennsylvania violations

In June 2011, GenOn Northeast Management Co. agreed to pay $5 million to settle a 2007 lawsuit against its Conemaugh Generating Station, alleging discharges of potentially toxic heavy metals helped pollute a river and violated its permits thousands of times. The plant sits on the Conemaugh River, about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Since at least 2005, the plant violated the federal Clean Water Act "practically every day" by discharging excessive amounts of aluminum, boron, iron, manganese and selenium in the approximately 2 million gallons of water it dumped into the Conemaugh each day, according to PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club, the environmental advocacy groups that filed lawsuit. Some of the metals are toxic, and can harm aquatic life in a river already damaged by acid mine drainage from coal mines, the environmental groups say.

The $3.75 million portion of the settlement is the largest penalty in Pennsylvania history against a water polluter under the citizen enforcement provision of the federal Clean Water Act. Of that, $3.5 million is would help support environmental cleanups in the Conemaugh River watershed, while $250,000 is a civil penalty. GenOn also must pay $1.25 million for the groups' legal expenses.[17]

New Jersey sues over Portland plant emissions

Residents to GenOn: Shut Down the Portland Coal Plant

In May 2010, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency against the Portland Generating Station, contending that it regularly exceeds federal clean-air standards and pollutes Warren County, NJ. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also complained about the facility when she was New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection commissioner from 2006 until 2008. In 2007, Jackson filed a lawsuit, which is still active, making similar claims about EPA inaction. But the EPA said it is putting off any action until January 2011, contending it needs more time.[18]

On March 31, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the petition by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to limit sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from the Portland plant. The petition said the plant adversely impacted air quality in four northwest NJ counties: Warren, Sussex, Morris, and Hunterdon. The EPA ordered the plant to reduce its SO2 emissions by 81 percent over a three year period.[19]

In October 2011, the EPA ruled that Portland must lower emissions within three years. Under the environmental agency’s decision, the plant must install equipment to reduce its sulfur dioxide emissions by 81 percent. The plant is among the 44 percent of coal-fired generating stations in the nation that don’t have advanced technology to control pollution, the environmental agency said. In 2009, the Portland plant emitted more than twice the total amount of sulfur dioxide from all of New Jersey’s plants combined, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. About one-third of air pollution in New Jersey, which does not meet federal standards for healthy air, comes from other states.[20]

Citizen Action

A longstanding campaign by the Sierra Club and regional environmental groups has targeted GenOn's Potomac River Generating Station as one of the most likely for closure in the nation. [21] The "Gen-Off" campaign has partnered local activists with the Sierra Club, the Chesapeake Climate Action Nettwork, Greenpeace, American Clean Skies Foundation, the American Lung Association and Interfaith Power and Light. "Citizens of the City of Alexandria have fought the plant for nearly a decade, and have forced GenOn to set aside $34 million in an effort to contain some of the plant’s pollution. While we applaud this initial effort, a growing group of concerned citizens believe that GenOn should not continue to invest in a plant that nobody wants here."

The campaign took on extra political steam when Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray expressed concern about plant emissions in July 2011. [22] [23]

Momentum also built with a report questioning the need for the plant and a full architectural plan to replace the plant with a riverfront development and park, as noted in the Potomac River Generating Station pages.

The Potomac River Generating Station was one of three major points of protest in the August, 2011 Wise Energy for Virginia tour.

Articles and Resources

References

  1. "Our Company" GenOn, accessed June 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Marc Levy, "$5M settlement reached in Pa. coal plant pollution" AP, June 6, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 GenOn Energy (Dec. 3, 2010). "Mirant and RRI Energy Complete Merger". Press release. Retrieved on Apr. 29, 2011.
  4. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/nrg-genon-complete-merger-creating-220000871.html
  5. NRG Energy to Buy GenOn for $1.7 Billion
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named EIA
  7. Environmental Integrity Project, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants, July 2007.
  8. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  9. Environmental Integrity Project, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants, July 2007.
  10. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  11. http://alexandriava.gov/news_display.aspx?id=51390,] City Of Alexandria website, Communications & Public Information, City News Releases, August 30, 2011, accessed August 30, 2011.
  12. "GenOn Looking to Cut Generating Capacity … Shawville Plant in the Crosshairs," GantDaily.com, Feb. 29, 2012.
  13. "Chalk Point Generating Plant," Mirant's Chalk Point Generating Plant, accessed November 6, 2009
  14. "Clean Air Act Settlement to Eliminate Almost 29,000 Tons of Harmful Emissions in Virginia and Maryland," U.S. EPA, May 8, 2006
  15. Christy Goodman, "Coal burning power plant fined $275,000,"Washington Post May 12, 2011.
  16. David Sachs "Coal plant violations fuel critics" Alexandria Times, May 12, 2011.
  17. Marc Levy, "$5M settlement reached in Pa. coal plant pollution" AP, June 6, 2011.
  18. Brian Murray, "N.J. environmental official urges quick response to Warren County coal plant pollution" NJ.com, July 12, 2010.
  19. David Gabel, "EPA Rules Pennsylvania Plant Must Lower Emissions into New Jersey Air" Environmental News Network, April 1, 2011.
  20. Christopher Baxter, "Pennsylvania coal power plant blamed for polluting N.J. air must better control its emissions, federal authorities rule" nj.com, Oct. 31, 2011.
  21. "Mount Vernon volunteers engaged in GenOff campaign"' Mt. Vernon Sierran, accessed July 18, 2011.
  22. Daniel Douez "D.C. mayor scolds Alexandria power plant" Alexandria Times, July 18, 2011.
  23. "Mayor Vincent C. Gray Says District Government Concerned Over High Sulfur Dioxide Emissions from Alexandria Plant" Press release, Executive Office of the Mayor, Washington D.C., July 8, 2011.

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External Articles

Wikipedia also has an article on GenOn Energy. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.