NEW YORK (Reuters) - Environmental groups have dropped opposition to the expansion of an NRG Energy Inc Texas coal plant after the company agreed to offset some of the unit’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the agreement, the NRG Limestone 3 plant near Houston would offset or sock underground half of its carbon dioxide emissions until the United States launches a federal climate change program.
NRG will build or support the development of a utility scale solar power project in Texas as part of the agreement, or contribute to a trust that would fund Texas energy efficiency projects.
The utility came to the agreement with the U.S. green group Environmental Defense and the Texas Clean Air Cities Coalition.
Environmental groups have been increasingly instrumental in convincing companies to stop plans to build coal plants amid rising concerns about global warming and pollutants. Environmental Defense, for example, reached an agreement with utility TXU last year for the company to scale back its coal plant building plan.
“Offsets, such as the projects that NRG has committed to invest in, are a low-cost way to get the large reductions in greenhouse gases that are necessary to prevent catastrophic impacts of global warming, and NRG has established a precedent for other electricity companies to follow,” Jim Marston, the state climate director of Environmental Defense Fund, said in a release.
In addition, NRG will not build another coal-fueled power plant in Texas unless the plant uses efficient technologies such as gasification of coal or ultra-supercritical, which burns pulverized coal, and agrees to offset or bury half of its carbon dioxide emissions.
Currently, the Limestone power plant generates over 1,700 MW of base-load generating capacity, enough to supply power to more than 1 million households.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Jim Marshall