A court settlement to close two coal plants and a gas plant in Arkansas was finalized this week.
The U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Arkansas finalized a settlement agreement between Entergy Arkansas and the Sierra Club of Arkansas that will result in the closure of the three plants by the end of 2030 and requires Entergy Arkansas to invest in renewable energy facilities.
This settlement was lodged in the court on November 2018 and finalized by U.S. District Court Judge Kristine G. Baker on Thursday, March 11. According to Baker, the “proposed settlement agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and consistent with the Clean Air Act.”
Under the agreement, Entergy Arkansas is required to cease coal combustion at its White Bluff Steam Electric Station by Dec. 31, 2028. The company will be required to ensure that the facility’s Unit 1 and Unit 2 do not exceed 0.6 pounds per million British thermal units (lbs/MMBTU) based on a 30-boiler-operating-day rolling average by June 30, 2021.
The White Bluff facility, located in Jefferson County, has two coal-fired electric utility steam generating units. The units have an electrical capacity of 900 megawatts each. Entergy Arkansas will continue to operate its low nitrogen oxides (NOx) burners and separated over-fire air facilities at White Bluff.
Entergy Arkansas has also been ordered to cease coal combustion at the Impendence Steam Electric Station in Independence County by Dec. 21, 2030. Like the White Bluff facility, the Independence facility must not exceed 0.6 pounds per million British thermal units (lbs/MMBTU) based on a 30-boiler-operating-day rolling average by June 30, 2021. Entergy Arkansas will also be allowed to continue operation of its low nitrogen oxides (NOx) burners and separated over-fire air facilities.
The court ordered Entergy Arkansas to shut down all operations of existing units at the Lake Catherine Steam Electric Station in Hot Spring County by Dec. 31, 2027. This facility currently has one fossil fuel-fired electricity utility steam generation unit that uses natural gas and has a capacity of 528 megawatts. The facility’s Units 1-3 are retired.
While the court ordered the company to shut down its existing operations at Lake Catherine, Entergy Arkansas is allowed to use the site and infrastructure from other purposes.
In addition, Energy Arkansas is requied to develop renewable energy projects, such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and energy storage, totaling 800 megawatts. At least half of this 800 megawatt total is required to be implemented on or before Dec. 31, 2022. The remaining 400 megawatts is required by Dec. 31, 2027.
“The settlement finalized today shows that our agreement to close massive polluting power plants is a win, win, win for Arkansans. The agreement will save utility customers up to $2 billion, reduce and eventually eliminate air pollution from two of the dirtiest coal plants in the country, and boost our economy with new renewable energy investments,” Sierra Club of Arkansas chapter director Glen Hooks said in a statement.
“This final ruling is an affirmation of our plans for the future. It allows us to move forward with implementing measures to comply with the Arkansas State Implementation Plan that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved in 2018,” Kurt Castleberry, director of resource planning and market operations for Entergy Arkansas, said in a statement provided to Arkansas Money & Politics.
According to the Entergy officials, the settlement is “consistent” with its plans to end the use of coal power and to “replace older, less-efficient generating plants with newer, more efficient generation resources” in an “economically beneficial” way to company stakeholders.
Entergy Arkansas has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Image courtesy of Entergy Arkansas