First TXU announced that it was going to build 11 new coal burning power plants around Texas. As you can expect, no one wants to live near a coal power plant, and one judge has already rejected one of the plants planned for Oak Grove.
The judges rejected Dallas-based TXU’s contention that it could build its proposed, two-unit Oak Grove plant in Robertson County without making the region’s air pollution worse. TXU has made similar arguments for each of the 11 new coal-burning units that it wants to build, mostly in East Texas.
The 11 TXU plants are among 16 coal-burning units that power companies want to build in Texas. Environmental and health groups say the coal boom would harm air quality across the state’s eastern half. Power companies say they would have minimal effect on air quality and are needed to provide electricity for a growing state.
Oak Grove is the first new TXU coal plant to go before the State Office of Administrative Hearings in Austin for a formal review. While other proposed plants will get individual hearings, the Oak Grove recommendation could signal problems for other plants.
Cynics claim that the rush to build a bunch of coal plants is a way for TXU to have them in existence BEFORE any potential government regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. CO2 is said to contribute to global warming. If the US created some kind of cap and trade system like they have in Europe and TXU already had the plants built first, then they could start out with a very high basis for carbon dioxide credits. They could then add CO2 capturing technology to their plants and sell their credits to someone else, or use those credits to build other future plants, etc.
TXU says the plants are needed because of growing power needs in Texas. And it is certainly true that Texas needs more power. The grid has been at capacity during a recent run of 100 degree plus temperatures.
So would you be doubly cynical if you thought that maybe TXU is announcing plans to build more nuclear plants after everyone criticized the coal plants for creating too much air pollution and too much carbon dioxide? Because after all, those coal plants that use “old, dirty technology.”
Nuclear doesn’t increase carbon dioxide, and it doesn’t cause air pollution. If you don’t like coal, then you must love nuclear, right? Probably not.
I think the truth is that no one wants ANY kind of power plant in their backyard. People even complain about windmills, and I’m sure there’s probably something wrong with solar too, if it’s too close to someone’s house.
And although people claim to want TXU to build alternative energy plants like solar and wind, almost no one wants to actually pay a higher electric bill for it. (I must be the “idiot” exception. I use Green Mountain Energy and I do pay a slightly higher rate. But it’s not like Green Mountain is grabbing any significant market share in Texas.)
I guess things just aren’t as simple as “coal is bad” anymore.