1,300-MW Circulating Fluidized Bed Project in Texas Suspended

Development of a $3.2 billion circulating fluidized bed (CFB) petroleum coke–fired power plant proposed for construction in Corpus Christi, Texas, was suspended last week. Chase Power Development, parent company of the 1,300-MW Las Brisas Energy Center, cited market conditions and regulatory obstacles for its decision.

Construction of the plant was to have been finished this year (as initially proposed in 2008) on the north side of the Port of Corpus Christi’s Inner Harbor. It would have burned a petroleum coke waste product from nearby refineries using a CFB boiler. It also would have included a "polishing scrubber" to curb sulfur dioxide emissions, a baghouse to collect particulate matter, and activated carbon injection to remove mercury emissions. Project owners had maintained that the facility would employ "Best Available Control Technology" for greenhouse gases, "satisfying all EPA proposed requirements."

But after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in January 2011 issued a contentious air permit for the Las Brisas Energy Center, developers postponed the start of construction to later that year, planning to begin commercial operations by 2015. The plant met with heavy opposition from a coalition of public health and environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund. A state court in July 2012 found that Texas authorities had issued the facility an air permit without requiring adequate technology to handle the plant’s fuel source, to comply with National Ambient Air Quality Standards, and it did not properly account for how petcoke would be stored and transported to the plant.

Meanwhile, the plant’s developers had last year launched a legal challenge to the EPA’s April-proposed carbon pollution standard for new power plants. But the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 13 dismissed the lawsuit, saying in a one-paragraph order that “The challenged proposed rule is not final agency action subject to judicial review.”

"While market conditions played a role, the direct regulatory obstacles purposefully erected by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resulted in the decision to suspend development of the plant," said Chase Power CEO Dave Freysinger last week.

Sources: POWERnews, Chase Power

This story was originally published on Jan. 28.

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