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Judge okays Entergy plan to close two large coal plants in Arkansas

March 12, 2021

Talk Business & Politics:

A federal judge approved Thursday (March 11) a settlement agreement for Little Rock-based utility Entergy Arkansas to retire two coal-fired plants and a natural gas plant by the end of 2030. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had sought review of the agreement to close the plants operated by the utility of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker approved the agreement between Entergy and environmental groups Sierra Club and National Parks Conservation Association. The parties signed the agreement in November 2018 before Rutledge asked state regulators in December 2018 to delay or halt the agreement. Rutledge said she also petitioned federal court to intervene in the case to protect the interest of Arkansas ratepayers. The case was handled in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Arkansas, Central Division, in Little Rock.

The plants to be closed include the 1,800-megawatt White Bluff Steam Electric Station in Jefferson County, 1,800-megawatt Independence Steam Electric Station in Independence County and 528-megawatt Lake Catherine Steam Electric Station in Hot Spring County. The White Bluff and Independence plants are expected to cease coal operations by Dec. 31, 2028, and Dec. 31, 2030, respectively. The Lake Catherine plant is expected to cease operations by Dec. 31, 2027. The coal-fired plants have been operating since the early 1980s. The natural gas plant came online in 1950 and was updated in 1970.

“The settlement finalized today shows that our agreement to close massive polluting power plants is a win, win for Arkansas,” said Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas Sierra Club. “The agreement will save utility customers up to $2 billion, reduce and eventually eliminate air pollution from two of the dirtiest coal plants in the country, and boost our economy with new renewable energy investments.

“The Independence and White Bluff coal plants are two of the largest unscrubbed coal plants in the nation,” Hooks added. “Their closures will combine to prevent 192 deaths, 111 heart attacks and 1,249 asthma attacks each year. I encourage Entergy Arkansas CEO Laura Landreaux to accelerate the closure of these plants because it will save lives. Replacing electric capacity with renewable energy and energy efficiency is the cleanest, safest and most affordable way for Entergy Arkansas to power its customers.”

Also under the settlement agreement, Entergy Arkansas is expected to begin developing renewable energy projects with a total capacity of 800 megawatts by Dec. 31, 2027. At least half of the capacity is expected to be in development by Dec. 31, 2022. Renewable energy options in the agreement include solar, geothermal, run-of-the-river hydroelectric and wind power, including commercial- and residential-scale projects and energy storage, according to Entergy.

[Jeff Della Rosa]

More: Judge approves Entergy Arkansas, Sierra Club agreement to retire coal, natural gas power plants

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