Home Energy and Environment Historic News: Alexandria Coal-Fired Power Plant to Close

Historic News: Alexandria Coal-Fired Power Plant to Close

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This just in from Alexandria:

The City of Alexandria and GenOn Energy have reached an agreement to permanently close the company’s Potomac River Generating Station, which began operating in 1949.  To facilitate the retirement of the plant, the City of Alexandria will release approximately $32 million currently held in escrow, which was set aside to pay for the additional environmental controls at the station as a result of a 2008 agreement between the City and GenOn.

“Today announcement is a path forward for both Alexandria and the power company that works for everybody, and truly reflects the interest of both parties,” said Alexandria’s Mayor William D. Euille.  “Both the Alexandria City Council and community have worked extremely hard toward this goal, and we are very proud of the final result.  This news strengthens Alexandria’s future and opens the door to an enhanced quality of life for our residents.”

Under the terms of the agreement, GenOn has agreed to retire the generating station by October 1, 2012, or, if the plant is needed beyond that date for reliability purposes, as soon as it is no longer needed.

The news comes in the wake of a report that the polluting plant isn’t necessary to meet the area’s energy needs.

Considering how long Alexandria public health and environmental advocates have been fighting to close this dirty coal-fired power plant, this is a historic victory. Congratulations to Rep. Jim Moran, Mayor Euille, the Alexandria City Council, and all the activists who’ve stuck with this fight!

UPDATE: Read the statement from Rep. Moran reacting to the closing in comments.

  • Now, we need to transition the entire U.S. power sector to clean energy, including of course energy efficiency, but also wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, etc. What on earth are we waiting for, other than the opposition of today’s version of the tobacco companies (and their decades-long Big Lie campaign to keep cigarette sales – and their profits – booming, at the cost of people dying in droves of cancer and heart disease).

  • Moran Statement on Closure of the GenOn Potomac Power Plant

    Washington, DC – Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, today applauded the City of Alexandria’s announcement to permanently close the GenOn Energy Potomac Power Plant in Alexandria by October 2012.

    “This was a long fought but well won victory for the citizens of Alexandria and the nation’s capital. What once was the largest stationary source of air pollution will be no more. Through citizen involvement and committed city officials, the Potomac River Generating Station and its 1949 coal-fired boilers will finally be shuttered,” said Moran.

    Forced to reduce its emissions and scale back its operations to comply with the Clean Air Act as a result of a lawsuit and enforcement actions, Mirant and GenOn were ultimately unable to compete with cheaper and cleaner natural gas powered electricity. Tougher federal regulations now in development may have also convinced GenOn’s management that the $28 million in settlement funds that had been set aside to meet the cleanup terms of the settlement were better than the losses their shareholders were taking trying to keep the outdated plant in operation.

    “Northern Virginia stands as an example of a prosperous and environmentally-conscious community. Today’s action maintains our commitment to a better, cleaner environment for our region’s next generation. The extinction of this dinosaur of a facility is heartily welcomed.”

    Since his time as Mayor of Alexandria, Rep. Moran has been a leading advocate for closure of the GenOn Power Plant, working with the City of Alexandria, local residents and environmental groups to focus attention on its harmful pollutants and their effect on the region.  The GenOn Power Plant has been in violation of several regulations, including severe violation of air quality standards for sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (DO2), nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter.

  • That was the estimated toll of the Potomac River Generating Station’s pollution in a 2010 study by Abt Associates. Here’s the total annual estimate:

    Deaths: 37

    Heart attacks: 60

    Asthma attacks: 610

    Hospital admissions: 28

    Chronic bronchitis: 23

    Asthma ER visits: 30