HOUSTON Dec 5 NRG Energy has canceled a
plan to add an 800-megawatt coal-fired unit at its Limestone
plant in Texas, citing the abundant supply of affordable natural
gas that makes coal plants less economic, NRG officials said.
NRG recently voided the air permit for Limestone 3 which was
set to expire this month, said John Ragan, NRG's executive vice
president and Gulf Coast regional president.
Limestone 3 was initially proposed in 2006 and obtained an
air permit in 2009 after an unsuccessful challenge by the Sierra
NRG operates two coal-fired units totaling 1,689 MW at the
Limestone site, 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Houston.
NRG sought an extension of the permit for Limestone 3, but
determined the project is not economical going forward.
"It would not be economical and would not be something our
shareholders would want us to move forward with," Ragan said.
U.S. power companies began planning dozens of new coal
plants in the mid 2000s when natural gas prices soared and power
demand was rising.
Most of the projects were delayed or canceled as gas prices
tumbled with increased production from shale formations, the
recession pared power consumption and federal regulators
implemented stricter environmental limits for coal plants,
including a proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new
In Texas, the 900-MW Sandy Creek coal plant is expected to
come online in 2013, a year later than scheduled after the LS
Power project experienced start-up problems that damaged key
Developers of several projects designed to burn petroleum
coke have been delayed or canceled while Summit Power Group
continues to pursue a 400-MW coal-gasification project west of