Study: New England power plants cleaner than most


New England’s power plants are cleaner than many others in the country, according to a report issued recently by an environmental advocacy group. According to the report, issued by the Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project, the nation’s dirtiest electrical power plants generate about 14 percent of the total electrical output from large U.S. electrical plants, but produce a disproportionately large share of major pollutants. The EIP evaluated the nation’s 359 largest power plants (those generating 2 megawatts or more) based on emissions of four pollutants: sulfur dioxide; mercury; nitrogen oxide; and carbon dioxide. This ranking was based on pollutants measured during 2004 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Plants then were ranked by the total amounts of the pollutants they produced, and by their rates of emissions per megawatt hour of electricity generated. Power plants were ranked in two different ways for four different pollutants, for a total of eight different rankings or lists. The only New England power plant to make any of the eight lists prepared by the EIP was Public Service of New Hampshire’s Merrimack Station in Bow, which was ranked 37th on the list of the 50 dirtiest power plants for sulfur dioxide by emission rate based on pounds of sulfur dioxide per megawatt hour. It will probably come as no surprise to New Englanders that most of the dirtiest coal plants last year were in the Midwest. Pennsylvania and Ohio had the heaviest concentration of dirty power plants — each state had nine leaders in sulfur dioxide emission rate. Six Tennessee Valley Authority plants were among the 50 dirtiest for different pollutants. Indiana had six and Georgia had four. Alabama, Maryland and Kentucky each had three of the dirtiest plants, while New York and Tennessee had two apiece. ***** Constellation Energy Group, a competitive supplier of electricity throughout New England, reported an 83 percent increase in first-quarter net income and a 20 percent increase in sales as a growing list of Fortune 100 companies and municipal utilities tapped the Baltimore company to be their power supplier. With profit flat at its regulated utility, Baltimore Gas & Electric, it has been the energy provider’s strategy to go after big power buyers in competitive energy markets nationwide. That move has fueled much of the jump in earnings. Net income for the three months ended March 31 was $120.7 million, or 68 cents per share, compared with $66.2 million, or 39 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Sales grew to $3.63 billion from $3.03 billion in the year-earlier period. Mayo A. Shattuck III, Constellation’s chairman and chief executive officer, was quoted as saying that the company’s push into competitive, deregulated markets outside of Maryland has gone better than anticipated. Its share of the national competitive market grew from 21 percent in the fourth quarter of last year to 23 percent in the most recent quarter. Company officials point out that several additional states are considering bills to open their electric markets to competition, a movement that had stalled in recent years. “The momentum behind that business continues to be very strong and our market share relative to other companies keeps widening,” Shattuck said. Constellation claims that its reliance on nuclear energy gives it an edge over utilities more reliant on natural gas-fired power plants, which have been plagued by volatile prices. Nearly 53 percent of the company’s generated power comes from its three nuclear plants. In June, the company bought the Ginna nuclear plant in Rochester, N.Y., and Shattuck said the company continues to look for new power plants to buy. The firm also is part of a consortium pushing the government to pass regulations that would make it more favorable for companies to build new nuclear plants. Constellation currently owns plants that can produce a combined 12,500 megawatts, which is enough to power 10 million homes. nhbr Doug Patch, former chairman of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, is with the Concord law firm of Orr and Reno.
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