InterGen Turns Off Border Turbine

By Published On: January 17, 2004

At the end of last week, InterGen shut down one of its two new export turbines at its Mexican power plant because it lacked requisite air pollution control technology. The US Department of Energy (DOE), which approved the transmission permits that allow the 1,065 MW plant to send power across the border to California, took the company to task for failing to install selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment on both turbines before firing up in late July. DOE notified InterGen on January 9 that it must agree to ?immediately cease operations and remain shut down? until outfitted with SCRs, as represented in the environmental assessment the federal agency used to justify its permit decision. This is a result of plant opponents? successful court challenge of the DOE permit. That same day, InterGen shut down the turbine and agreed not to restart it until the pollution controls were in place. Lack of emissions control significantly boosts the amount of nitrogen oxides, from less than 300 tons per year to more than 900 tons per year, according to Bill Powers, chair of the Border Power Plant Working Group. The organization challenged the government?s permits for the InterGen plant and Sempra?s smaller project in Mexicali. ?The [SCR] installation process on the second unit is well under way?we have completed all of the engineering and design work for the project, completed negotiations with and mobilized a contractor to perform the installation work, and ordered the necessary equipment,? said InterGen spokesperson Sarah Webster. The process should take a few months. According to InterGen, the issue regarding the pollution controls is one of timing. The company agreed a year ago to install pollution controls on all four turbines at its La Rosita plant, including the units that are kept in the country, within 30 months of operation. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, however, said the agreement was to have the SCR in place at the time of operation (see <i>Energy Circuit</i>, January 9, 2004). That deal was the reason the senator withdrew legislation that would have required SCRs on Intergen?s and all other Mexican power plants that send power across the border.

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