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Judge recommends denying TXU's permit request coal plant

23 August 2006
Associated Press Newswires

AUSTIN (AP) - TXU Corp. should be denied a permit for its proposed Oak Grove coal-fired power facilities because it failed to prove it would meet stated emissions standards, two administrative law judges recommended Wednesday.

The judges said Dallas-based TXU did not satisfactorily demonstrate the plant would use the best available technology for reducing pollution.

The recommendations go to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which can still overrule the judges.

TXU spokeswoman Kim Morgan said the company disagrees with the recommendation and will continue to make its case with regulators.

"This is just another step in the process," Morgan said. "We will work closely with the TCEQ in answering their questions because they are the ultimate decision-making authority".

Environmental advocates hailed the judges' decision as a victory, but understand TCEQ could reject the recommendation.

"We know it could be reversed but we hope the commissioners have enough courage to stand up to TXU's enormous political weight," said Tom ""Smitty"" Smith, Texas director of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Oak Grove is planned in Robertson County, near Franklin, where TXU wants two power generating units. These are among 11 coal units spread over nine proposed sites by TXU.

The site for these proposed units is about 55 miles southeast of Waco.

Last fall, TXU announced plans for the units in Robertson County and a third in Milam County.

In April, just a few days after the state underwent rolling blackouts, TXU unveiled plans for another eight units on seven sites.

TXU pledged to reduce emissions by 20 percent with the new technology, but opponents said the company can do better.

"This is technology appropriate for the last century, not this century," Smith said. "There are clearly cleaner ways to meet the needs for electricity."

"TXU said its proposed $10 billion investment in the plants will meet the state's growing demand in a responsible way to keep costs down for consumers and still produce a viable return for investors. "

"The TECQ staff has set an aggressive standard for the state of Texas," Morgan said. "We believe the technology will work."

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