Updated: Jul 29, 2020
Reopening a coal plant in Gibbons Creek, just outside of Bryan & College
Station, by a New Mexico power company seems counterintuitive to people who are concerned about the environment.
But, believe it or not, that is the plan.
Texas Municipal Power Agency, is a group comprising the cities of Bryan, Garland, Denton and Greenville and it owns the 420-megawatt coal-fired Gibbons Creek Generating Station.* In October 2018, TMPA mothballed the plant and then in October 2019 completely shut it down for environmental and cost reasons. When the plant closed down, the electricity generated by the coal-fired station was generally replaced with cheaper, renewable energy.
Currently, the Texas municipalities of Denton, Greenville, Bryan and Garland own the Texas Municipal Power Agency. Of concern is that TEERP Power Station LLC has secured approvals through the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) towards a restart of the power plant.** The reopening of this coal plant comes at a time that other coal plants across the US are closing down because coal-burning plants cost more to produce energy than natural gas-fueled generating units and renewable energy including wind and solar power. However, the Texas grid operator warned that this summer "extreme weather, low wind output and higher-than-normal generation outages may result in the need to declare Energy Emergency Alerts." *** Thus, a technology development firm, Frontier Applied Sciences, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, plans to buy the plant and run it seasonally.
WHAT DO PEOPLE THINK?
The Environmental Integrity Project - Jan. 2019 Report ****
"Toxic coal ash pollutants are leaking into groundwater surrounding 100 percent of Texas’s power plants for which data are available, with unsafe levels of arsenic, cobalt, lithium, and other pollutants seeping from the ash dumps, ..." and this includes the closed Gibbons Creek coal-burning power plant. This information is easy to find. In fact, we should be talking about a clean-up, not a reopening.
CHRISSY MANN*****, Senior Campaign Representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said:
“Clean energy sources, not coal or gas, are by and large the future of the ERCOT market. We know that wind, solar, and battery storage represent 95% of proposed projects in ERCOT right now. And this is a market that is quickly recovering from tight reserve margins in an era of historically low gas prices, making a new coal entrant that much more unlikely to succeed. Little is known or understood about this proposal, including the corporate goals of Frontier Applied Sciences, a technology firm, seeking to seasonally operate a legacy coal project. This proposal to resurrect Gibbons Creek comes on the heels of several years of significant coal retirements in Texas and during a pandemic worsened by poor air quality. The timing and this trajectory indicates a dubious future for a 1980’s era coal plant that relies on coal shipments from Wyoming, with unknown future environmental compliance costs and issues, especially in a market as competitive as ERCOT. We look forward to learning more about this proposal in the future.”
RAYMOND TARPLEY******, Chapter Leader for Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) wrote an opinion piece for the Eagle Newspaper:
"It would be irresponsible to let Gibbons Creek plant to reopen"
"Coal has become the most costly source of energy production, as well as the most polluting. The declining fortunes of fossil fuels on the open market, with a glut of oil now looking for storage capacity, make the planned reopening of the coal-fired Gibbons Creek Generation Station in Grimes County all the more concerning. While the plant was thought to be slated for decommissioning, the 6,500 acre site, just outside Bryan and College Station, may have found an out-of-state buyer, allowing BTU to shed the plant from its ledger."
"Yet, reopening a coal plant in our region seems contrary to responsible long-term economic and environmental planning, and the wisdom of doing so should be questioned. Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU) should reject this proposed sale and support a return of the land around Gibbons Creek to a more natural environment for recreation, fishing and hiking."
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
1. Please sign this petition in opposition of reopening Gibbons Creek coal-burning plant.
2. Send letters and emails in opposition of reopening Gibbons Creek coal-burning plant to:
1. Texas Municipal Power Agency
Tracy Stracener, Texas Municipal Power Agency, P.O. Box 7000, Bryan, TX 77805.
2. Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU) Board
Angie Saxby, BTU Board, 205 E 28Th St., Bryan, Texas, 77803.
Tel: (979) 821-5700 .
3. BRYAN CITY COUNCIL - Note: It is very important to contact the Bryan City Council since selling of the power plant requires approval by the City of Bryan.
City of Bryan
P.O. Box 1000
Bryan, TX 77805
Mayor Andrew Nelson
Councilmember Reuben Marin
Councilmember Prentiss Madison
Councilmember Greg Owens
Councilmember Mike Southerland
Councilmember Brent Hairston
Councilmember Buppy Simank
Sample letter that you can use.
Dear Ms. Stracener, Ms. Saxby, Mayor Nelson, Coucilmember .... ,
I am writing this letter in opposition to the upcoming sale and reopening of the Gibbons Creek coal-powered plant. Reopening a coal plant in Gibbons Creek is bad for our community, environment and local economy. The 420-megawatt coal-fired Gibbons Creek power plant, just outside of Bryan/College Station, was closed in October of 2019 for environmental and cost reasons. The community agreed with this decision and has moved to better renewable Texas-sourced energy. The Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) is selling the plant to Frontier Applied Sciences, based in Scottsdale, AZ. This does not benefit the local community nor environment.
It is well known that air pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems and severe public health impacts. People living near coal-fired power plants have higher death rates and die at earlier ages. Even the cleanest coal processing (CO2-capturing) does not eliminate the release of mercury, nitrogen oxide, and other poisonous contaminants into the air. The radioactive material in coal ash, a byproduct of burnt coal, contaminates water ways and groundwater with dangerous radioactive chemicals and toxic heavy metals (selenium, mercury, cadmium and arsenic) that are all associated with cancer, according to the EPA. The community cannot risk their health especially during the pandemic.
Reopening the Gibbons Creek coal-powered plant is irresponsible and dangerous to the health and well-being of the people of Texas. The people demand this deal be reversed and the Gibbon Creek coal plant to be shut down permanently.
3. Send letters to The Eagle to do investigative reporting on this issue. We need to know the facts. https://www.theeagle.com/site/forms/online_services/letter/
4. Join your regional Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) https://citizensclimatelobby.org
****** the eagle.com 06/12/2020.