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If Eni goes ahead with the auction, the business could attract private equity firms and utility companies, sources said.
Tuesday’s surprising move by the court is a blow to Obama and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents.
The fine covers violations that Duke Energy admitted when it pleaded guilty to federal pollution crimes nine months ago and agreed to pay $102 million in fines and restitution, the state Department of Environmental Quality said.
Two hurdles for the projects could delay NRG’s plans indefinitely, however.
North Carolina-based Duke, which is the nation’s top power generator, currently runs its Central and South American power plants from Houston.
The plan has been challenged by more than two dozen mostly Republican-led states and allied business and industry groups tied to fossil fuels.
Crane, who led NRG for 12 years out of bankruptcy and into greater national relevance, is being replaced by Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mauricio Gutierrez.
NRG President and CEO David Crane bemoaned the “unabated selloff in our stock” earlier in November.
The EPA’s proposal follows a federal appeals court ruling this summer that upheld the agency’s right to impose the clean-air standards, which block states from adding to air pollution in other localities.
The Clean Power Plan, the final version of which was proposed in August, is intended to reduce carbon pollution from existing power by 32 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030.