Study Faults Two PSEG Coal Plants

CourierPostOnline — Friday, July 28, 2006

Courier-Post Staff

Public Service Enterprise Group, parent company of PSE&G, owns two of the 50 "dirtiest" power plants in the nation, according to a study released Thursday. The study was released by a Washington, D.C., research group that monitors compliance with federal environmental laws.

PSEG's Hudson Generating Plant in Jersey City ranked 12 and its Mercer Generating Station in Hamilton Township ranked 36 out of 400 fossil-fuel plants in the country, based on a composite score of emissions of four pollutants: sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury.

They are the only remaining coal plants in PSEG's New Jersey portfolio of 11 power stations.

Built in the mid-1960s, the Jersey City plant topped the list for carbon dioxide, according to the 50-page study conducted by Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.

PSEG agreed with the volume of emissions cited in the report, but challenged the rate per megawatt hour the study showed.

"We can't say where the under-reporting came from at this time, but we believe the rate of emissions is in error," said utility spokesman Neil Brown.

PSEG has steadily reduced emissions at the two plants and plans to continue working on the problem, Brown said.

If PSEG's plan to merge with Chicago-based Exelon is approved, New Jersey's largest utility company must divest itself of the two coal plants for antitrust reasons.

"It should come as no surprise that coal produces more emissions than other fuels. However, coal can be operated in an environmentally responsible manner," Brown said.

Suzanne Leta, energy consultant for New Jersey Public Interest Group, said the study should be a nail in the coffin for advocates of a coal comeback to offset the cost of oil and natural gas and public safety issues surrounding nuclear power.

LS Power Development LLC hopes to build a $1 billion coal-burning electric plant that could fuel 500,000 homes in West Deptford.

It is one of approximately 150 new coal-burning power plants that are being proposed across the country to satisfy increased energy demands.

The New Brunswick-based LS Power has signed an agreement with West Deptford to purchase the site for $14 million, contingent upon local, state and federal approvals.

Cleaner air is possible even from coal-burning plants with limestone scrubbers, according to the report, which found that more companies are installing them.

Information for the report was culled from required filings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.

The worst-scoring plant in the nation is the Leland Olds plant in North Dakota. Three plants in Pennsylvania and one in Delaware also made the list.

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