Some Texas power companies already spent billions on EPA compliance, before Supreme Court ruling

NRG Energy Inc. Vice President Nuclear Oversight, James von Suskil speaks during a scheduled refueling outage on Unit 2 at the South Texas Project nuclear power facility Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Wadsworth. (James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle)
NRG Energy Inc. Vice President Nuclear Oversight, James von Suskil speaks during a scheduled refueling outage on Unit 2 at the South Texas Project nuclear power facility Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Wadsworth.
(James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle)

While the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow against a landmark rule for regulating emissions from power plants, several of the largest Texas power companies said the ruling will have a minimal impact.

Many companies have already spent the money to retrofit or shut down the coal-fired power plants that were most affected. Other Texas power companies rely more on natural gas or nuclear power and actually supported the Environmental Protection Agency rule that went into effect in April.

The court ruled in a 5-4 split Monday that the EPA did not properly account for industry costs in its rule to regulate the emissions of mercury and air toxics, or MATS.

Houston-based Dynegy already spent about $2 billion to comply with MATS and other air regulations, and the company was not planning to retire any plants, spokesman Micah Hirschfield said.

Likewise, Houston-based NRG Energy acted has already added the necessary equipment to comply with state and federal laws, said David Knox, an NRG senior communications director.

The EPA can still go back to the drawing board on cost-benefit data, while also still moving forward with other planned regulations on carbon emissions. The challenge was brought by industry groups and 21 Republican-led states. The ruling may force the EPA to pay more attention to industry costs going forward.

But some companies like Houston-based Calpine and Dallas-based Exelon Corp. rely more on natural gas -fired or nuclear power plants. They were vocally supporting the EPA rule in the Supreme Court case. In a prepared statement, Exelon spokesman Paul Elsberg said the company was disappointed with Monday’s ruling.

“Exelon believes that the court’s concerns can be quickly addressed without affecting the compliance timeline, and we can keep our nation on a path toward a modern, reliable and affordable energy system,” Elsberg added.

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