Judge dismisses appeals of TCEQ order granting Tenaska permits
SWEETWATER, Texas – A Texas District Court judge has dismissed two appeals of the order issued by the Texas Environmental Quality Commission (TCEQ) in December 2010 granting air quality permits for the Tenaska Trailblazer Energy Center. The appeals had been filed by the Multi-County Coalition and the Sierra Club.Judge Rhonda Hurley of 98th District Court in Travis County on Oct. 20, heard oral arguments on the TCEQ’s and Tenaska’s pleas arguing that the Court did not have jurisdiction since the appeals were not filed in a timely manner.“The Court finds that TCEQ's and Tenaska's pleas to the jurisdiction should be granted, and the Court hereby grants them. It is therefore ordered that this suit be, and it is hereby, dismissed with prejudice,” the judge said in her final order.“Regardless of whether the statutory deadlines for appeals were met, Tenaska has always been confident that the permits are sound because of the thorough review and support they received,” Tenaska Vice President of Environmental Affairs Greg Kunkel said.Since the first public notice in March 2008, Tenaska’s application and draft air quality permits have been extensively and publicly reviewed, including by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A full evidentiary contested case administrative hearing was held in June 2010 and included expert testimony concerning Trailblazer’s plans for effective emissions controls.After reviewing testimony, briefs and the recommendations of the administrative law judges, the TCEQ commissioners concluded that the plant will meet all applicable state and federal requirements governing protection of air quality and issued the air quality permits in December 2010.The proposed Trailblazer plant, under development near Sweetwater in Nolan County, is designed to be a 600-megawatt (net) technologically advanced pulverized coal power generating plant that will capture 85 to 90 percent of its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Trailblazer was the first proposed carbon capturing coal plant in Texas to receive an air quality permit. Its state-of-the-art technology also will greatly minimize other emissions.“Trailblazer will be designed to provide electricity for Texans in a safe and environmentally responsible way,” Kunkel said. “At the same time, the plant will help promote energy security by using our nation’s most abundant fossil fuel to generate baseload electricity and increase Permian Basin oil production in West Texas by providing a valuable supply of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.”He said Tenaska is proud to help lead the way, not only in the United States but across the globe, toward commercializing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology that can help provide clean energy in a cost-effective way.Trailblazer is one of few power plants under development in the United States that will employ CCS for enhanced oil recovery. The project is already receiving international attention, having been awarded an AUD $8 million grant from the Australia-based Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute and featured in a series about clean energy aired internationally by the British Broadcasting Company.A number of tasks and contracts must be completed before construction of Trailblazer can begin, including engineering and design studies, securing customers for the electricity and carbon dioxide, and securing state, federal and local incentives designed to encourage development of carbon capture and storage projects. When these components are in place, a schedule for financing and constructing the energy center will be established. About TenaskaTenaska is an energy company, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, that develops, constructs, owns and operates non-utility generation and cogeneration plants. The company also markets natural gas, biofuels and electric power, and provides risk management services. Tenaska is involved in asset acquisition, fuel supply, natural gas exploration, production and transportation systems, and electric transmission development. Tenaska has developed approximately 9,000 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity across the United States. Tenaska’s affiliates operate and manage eight power plants in six states totaling more than 6,700 MW of generating capacity owned in partnership with other companies. Tenaska Capital Management, an affiliate, is the manager of private equity funds with approximately $4 billion in assets, including eight power plants (with more than 5,000 MW of capacity), and multiple natural gas midstream assets, including natural gas storage and gas gathering and processing facilities. Tenaska is repeatedly listed in benchmarking studies by the Natural Resources Defense Council as having the best record in the United States for controlling fleet-wide average emissions. For more information about Tenaska, visit www.tenaska.com.