Brief

NRG completes conversion of 4 coal plants to burn natural gas

Dive Brief:

  • NRG Energy has completed the conversion of four coal-fired power plants to natural gas, a fleet optimization strategy the power company says will cut the units' carbon output by 80% while maintaining necessary capacity, Electric Power & Light reports. 
  • Two plants are located in Pennsylvania, and one each in Illinois and Louisiana. Combined, they have a capacity of almost 3,000 MW.
  • Along with growing its renewables generation, NRG has leaned on coal-to-gas conversions to clean up its power mix and has considered similar projects in New York and Ohio — though at times it has turned to pollution control equipment along with conversions. 

Dive Insight:

NRG has been looking for ways to clean up its generation mix, and this week announced it had completed a handful of coal-to-gas conversions that will significantly reduce emissions while keeping the lights on for 2 million customers.

NRG CEO Mauricio Gutierrez said in a statement the conversions were "driven by the economics of power generation," and will help keep the company competitive alongside its carbon-free portfolio. Gutierrez was tapped to lead NRG following last year's departure of former CEO David Crane, who set NRG on its path towards incorporating more renewables in its power mix. 

"Along with growing our renewables portfolio, these optimization projects keep NRG competitive while advancing on our sustainability commitments.”

The modified units can generate more than 2,780 MW. Given the expected reductions in carbon emissions resulting from the modifications, combined with plants' operating profiles, NRG said the four plants are expected to reduce their combined carbon footprint by more than 80%.

The largest of the four conversions was completed at NRG's Joliet Generating Station (pictured), located approximately 50 miles outside Chicago. All three of the plant's units were converted for a total of 1,326 MW.

In Pennsylvania, at the Shawville Generating Station near State College, NRG converted all four units for a total of 590 MW of generating power. The Big Cajun II Generating Station in New Roads, La., will supply 540 MW of gas-fired power. And three converted units at the New Castle Generating Station, northwest of Pittsburgh, will add 325 MW.

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Filed Under: Generation Corporate News
Top image credit: Flickr: reallyboring