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FPL to shut down 250-MW coal plant; Washington governor proposes $1B carbon tax

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FPL to shut down 250-MW coal plant; Washington governor proposes $1B carbon tax

Florida Power & Light to shut down 250-MW Cedar Bay coal plant on New Year's Eve

Florida Power & Light Co. is shuttering its Cedar Bay Generating coal power plant at the end of 2016. The NextEra Energy Inc. subsidiary announced on Dec. 21 a formal retirement date of Dec. 31 for its 250-MW coal plant in Jacksonville, Fla. According to FPL, the uneconomic plant's closure will save ratepayers more than $70 million and will prevent the emission of nearly a million ton of carbon dioxide a year.

EPA fires back at new source rule litigants' 'crystal ball inquiry'

Donald Trump's election win is not a good enough reason to delay a legal review of carbon emissions performance standards for new fossil fuel power plants, according to the U.S. EPA. The agency voiced that opinion in response to a request from those challenging the new source rule for a pause in the litigation to allow the new Trump administration time to review the rule once the president-elect takes office. But the EPA said the petitioners had plenty of time before the election to raise the subject but instead agreed to the set briefing schedule.

DOE taps untouched multibillion-dollar loan program for fossil fuel projects

The U.S. Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment to guarantee loans of up to $2 billion to construct the world's first methanol production facility to use carbon capture technology. The commitment was awarded to Lake Charles Methanol LLC for the construction of a plant in Lake Charles, La. The company plans to sell the captured carbon to Denbury Onshore LLC for enhanced oil recovery in the Gulf Coast region of Texas.

Washington State governor proposes $1B carbon tax

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a $25 per tonne tax on carbon emissions, but the chances of passing the legislation in a politically divided legislature are slim, especially after the recent defeat of a voter initiative to impose a carbon tax. The governor's budget proposal calls for the tax to raise nearly $1 billion per year. By law, the governor must propose a biennial budget in December, the month before the legislature convenes in regular session.

Obama's offshore drilling ban 'a stick in the spokes' of Trump's energy plans

President Barack Obama's attempt to burnish his environmental legacy with a last-minute ban on drilling in some federal waters will make life complicated for President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on rolling back energy regulations but likely will not have a quick way to reverse this policy, Washington energy observers said. Industry groups and the Alaska congressional delegation howled after the Dec. 20 announcement by the Obama administration that drilling would be off limits in federal waters offshore of Alaska and the Atlantic, with the exception of previously leased acreage in the Arctic.

NRG adds nearly 2,800 MW of gas capacity by converting coal plants

NRG Energy Inc. has successfully converted four of its coal-fired facilities to run on natural gas, slashing the power plants' combined carbon footprint by more than 80%. The modified units can collectively produce 2,780 MW, enough to power more than 2 million average homes, according to a Dec. 19 news release.

Mass. regulators unveil proposed clean energy standard to cut emissions

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's administration proposed a clean energy standard for the state seven months after its highest court ruled that current greenhouse gas policies were not cutting it. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection recently issued a new set of clean air regulations that aim to help the state meet a mandated 25% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020.

EPA drops efforts to finish Clean Power Plan's model trading rules

The EPA is walking away from efforts to finalize the draft model trading rules and other projects associated with the Clean Power Plan before the new administration takes over. In a Dec. 19 blog post, Janet McCabe, EPA acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, explained that the agency decided to withdraw the Clean Power Plan's model trading rules and other related projects and post the work that has been completed as a working draft.

Mich. governor signs energy reform legislation into law

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a comprehensive energy plan into law, culminating a more than two-year effort to update the state's energy policies. In a Dec. 21 news release, Snyder called the legislation "historic" and one that makes it "easier for [Michigan] to meet its energy needs." House Majority Leader Aric Nesbitt, a key negotiator in the plan's passage, called the legislation a "milestone reform" that ensures energy capacity in the long term, according to a Dec. 21 release.

DC Circuit ties up loose ends in MACT rule legal challenge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has agreed to remand an emissions performance standard for certain industrial boilers back to the EPA so the agency can review a calculation that was deemed to be flawed. The EPA in September asked the court for a remand of the boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology standard, or MACT rule, a request that was supported by the other parties to the case.

SaskPower clears the air about Boundary Dam carbon capture performance

The Canadian operator of the world's first successful carbon capture and sequestration power plant has defended the facility from attacks in a lawsuit against the EPA's carbon performance standards for new coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. SaskPower said in a Dec. 22 brief to a federal appeals court that the coal-fired generator is working just fine, and outages that the rule's opponents have pointed to as evidence of the project's failure were, in fact, routine.