Once-Through Cooling Rules Anticipated

By Published On: February 6, 2009

The State Water Quality Control Board’s proposed policy on water-cooled power plants, slated for adoption early this year, is stalled. The state agency and its regional water boards are authorized to issue national discharge permits for power plants under the federal Clean Water Act. The board ascribes the stalled policy to staffing changes and contractor delays. At the same time, though, it has moved slowly while a parallel federal process moves along at an unknown speed. The state board’s policy making would be eased if it knew how the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s would revise it Clean Water Act 316(b) rules governing power plant intake structures in the wake of a court decision overturning earlier federal standards. As it has waited, pressure has been building in California for a statewide policy directed at reducing the impacts of water-cooling technology on marine life. Part of the pressure arises from continued operation of controversial plants with expired wastewater discharge permits (Circuit, Jan, 9, 2009.) Typifying the growing pressure on the board for action, last month state Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) introduced legislation to phase out once-through cooling. The bill, SB 42, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. Of the 19 water-cooled plants in California, four already have plans to swap in dry cooling technology. These include Pacific Gas & Electric’s Humboldt facility, NRG Energy’s El Segundo units 1-4 and Encina plants, as well as Dynegy’s South Bay facility. Meanwhile, the list of plants with expired permits causing concern includes: -AES’s Alamitos facility, permit expired May 2005; -AES’s Redondo plant, expired May 2005; -Dynegy’s Morro Bay facility, expired March 2000; -Dynegy’s Moss Power plant, expired October 2000; -LADWP’s Haynes plant, expired May 2005; -LADWP’s Harbor facility, expired June 2008; -LADWP’s Scattergood facility, expired May 2005; -Mirant’s Contra Costa plant, expired April 2006; -Mirant’s Pittsburg plant, expired May 2007; -Mirant’s Potrero facility, expired December 2008; -PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, expired May 1995; -Reliant’s Ormond Beach, expired May 2006; and -Reliant’s Mandalay generating station, expired March 2006. Source: State Water Resources Control Board

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now