Gibbons Creek Coal-Powered Plant Sale and Reopening
TMPA agreed to sell the Gibbons Creek Power plant to Charah Solutions. Ownership interests are Bryan 21.24%; Denton 21.45%; Garland 47.30%; and Greenville 10.01%; all four cities will need to approve the sale before the deal can go through.
The deal requires the buyer to decommission the existing power plant structures. The buyer will remove all oils and chemicals from the plant site, properly dispose of them, and demolish the power plant structures and associated equipment. The power plant structures contain a large amount of steel, copper, and other valuable materials that Charah plans to sell as scrap.
The City of Denton is taking up discussion of the sale now.
Questions for Denton City Council 1.8.21 Work session
Denton City Council will discuss the sale of the Gibbons Creek coal plant site in tomorrow’s work session. As the sale will involve the transfer of publicly owned land and resources to a private company who will control future redevelopment, we are concerned that the sale provisions for future land use may not contain adequate protections for public health and the environment. Here are questions about the sale and its impact on health and the environment that community would like to see answered:
Why are future earnings and land value associated with the site not a part of the third scenario (TMPA retains ownership and contracts out decommissioning) presented to Council? How does the land value compare to the cost savings presented by the sale under scenario one? Can TMPA or City Staff provide information on the potential future earnings if the site were to remain a public resource managed by the four cities?
The contract and associated documents mention that the EPA has finalized Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rules and therefore clean-up expectations. Nonetheless, the EPA has yet to approve the partial delegation of TCEQ running the CCR program, and even if that is expected to happen in the near future, with a new Administration likely to review both the delegation decision and the underlying rule itself, what happens if the Biden Administration increases the regulatory and clean-up requirements of CCR waste? Are there provisions in the contract that address this issue? ( https://www.texastribune.org/2020/12/29/texas-environment-coal-ash-epa-biden/ ).
The buyer has made statements in the press about the type of development they are contemplating, which does not seem to involve any heavy industry or fossil fuel power plant development. Is there anything in the contract that specifically assures that fossil fuel extraction processes or processes that entail fossil fuel combustion as a primary aspect of their operation or for power production will not be done at the site? Are there provisions that prevent activity at the site that poses potential public health risks and negatively impacts quality of life for those in the surrounding area, such as toxic waste, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions?
The current contract seems to give freedom to the buyer for 7 of the 10 plots of land in terms of what they could plan for future development. Are there any provisions in the contract to assure that the recreational opportunities for camping, fishing and hiking are maintained or even expanded?
Under the current agreement, the surrounding 11,000 acres owned by TMPA, which contain recreational areas and sensitive ecosystems, are not a part of the acquisition. Would TMPA and the four cities explore retaining the remaining acreage under a conservation easement?
The Gibbons Creek Environmental Team is watching to make sure the land cannot be resold by Charah Solutions to another company for fossil fuel drilling or excavation.