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Clean-coal plant would benefit Delaware

Posted Monday, February 19, 2007

Delaware, we have a problem. We need more power.

It’s a fact that Delaware needs over 500 additional megawatts (MW) of power by 2013, according to PJM Interconnection, the organization that ensures Delaware has a reliable supply of electricity.

How can Delaware get the power it needs, when it needs it, at rates its residents and businesses can afford while at the same time providing long-term environmental benefits for generations of Delawareans? If you want to address both environmental and energy supply objectives, clean coal is the answer.

The clean coal plant proposed by NRG will provide Delaware with competitively priced power, whenever it is needed, with significantly lower emissions (including over 95 percent mercury removal and 99 percent sulfur removal).

Our clean coal project uses innovative technology — Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) — at the current Indian River site. The project will also include shutting down the two oldest existing traditional coal-fueled units at the Indian River plant. The innovative IGCC technology will capture and sequester approximately 65 percent of the carbon emissions and dramatically cut overall emissions at the facility. We expect overall sulfur and mercury emissions to be reduced by around 80 percent and nitrogen oxides by about 60 percent at the existing facility.

The clean coal plant proposed by NRG also means a $1.5 billion investment in Delaware that brings over 1,000 construction jobs during the five-year construction period, and around 100 new permanent employees at the Indian River plant.

While the concept that a renewable energy source such as wind can power our homes and businesses is appealing, the fact is that the proposed offshore wind project cannot meet Delaware’s energy needs.

Residents would pay the sizable capital costs of building a 600 MW wind power project that would provide only around a third of that power (since the wind does not blow all the time). On the hottest days, when the wind is not blowing and everyone wants to run their air conditioners, the only way to get power will be to buy it from other power plants when it is the most expensive. It is no coincidence that there is not a single offshore wind power project operating in the United States today … not one.

And the biggest reasons why are because offshore wind is generally cost prohibitive and, as with all wind power, intermittent and therefore incapable of being an alternative to conventional power plants that run all the time.

Some say NRG is against wind power because we are invested solely in coal. That’s simply not the case. NRG is also in the wind power business. Our wind subsidiary, Padoma Wind Power, which is one of the most accomplished wind developers active in the United States today, declined to bid in response to this Request for Proposals issued by the State of Delaware.

It was their opinion that a huge, first-of-its-kind wind farm off Delaware’s beautiful coastline is the wrong project at the wrong time in the wrong place, especially given what the Delaware General Assembly has identified the state needs now-baseload power that is reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible to fuel the state’s economic growth.

NRG’s proposed plant would use coal gasification technology — specifically identified by the legislature — to provide reliable and affordable energy while also delivering material environmental benefits.

Delaware has an opportunity now to once again be “the first state” in addressing its power needs using clean coal technology, leading the nation in encouraging independence from foreign oil and gas while meaningfully addressing environmental issues — including global warming.

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