|NRG ENERGY, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 03/01/2018|
In February 2012, the EPA promulgated standards (the MATS rule) to control emissions of HAPs from coal and oil-fired electric generating units. The rule established limits for mercury, non-mercury metals, certain organics and acid gases, which had to be met beginning in April 2015 (with some units getting a 1-year extension). In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Michigan v. EPA, and held that the EPA unreasonably refused to consider costs when it determined that it was "appropriate and necessary" to regulate HAPs emitted by electric generating units. The U.S. Supreme Court did not vacate the MATS rule but rather remanded it to the D.C. Circuit for further proceedings. In December 2015, the D.C. Circuit remanded the MATS rule to the EPA without vacatur. On April 25, 2016, the EPA released a supplemental finding that the benefits of this regulation outweigh the costs to address the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the EPA had not properly considered costs. This finding has been challenged in the D.C. Circuit. On April 18, 2017, the EPA asked the D.C. Circuit to postpone oral argument that had been scheduled for May 18, 2017 because the EPA is closely reviewing the supplemental finding to determine whether it should reconsider all or part of the rule. On April 27, 2017, the D.C. Circuit granted EPA's request to postpone the oral argument and hold the case in abeyance. While NRG cannot predict the final outcome of this rulemaking, NRG believes that because it has already invested in pollution controls and cleaner technologies, the fleet is well-positioned to comply with the MATS rule.
In August 2014, the EPA finalized the regulation regarding the use of water for once through cooling at existing facilities to address impingement and entrainment concerns. NRG anticipates that more stringent requirements will be incorporated into some of its water discharge permits over the next several years as NPDES permits are renewed.
Effluent Limitations Guidelines — In November 2015, the EPA revised the Effluent Limitations Guidelines for Steam Electric Generating Facilities, which would have imposed more stringent requirements (as individual permits were renewed) for wastewater streams from flue gas desulfurization, or FGD, fly ash, bottom ash, and flue gas mercury control. In April 2017, the EPA granted two petitions to reconsider the rule and also administratively stayed some of the deadlines. On September 18, 2017, the EPA promulgated a final rule that (i) postpones the compliance dates to preserve the status quo for FGD wastewater and bottom ash transport water by two years to November 2020 until the EPA completes its next rulemaking and (ii) withdrew the April 2017 administrative stay. The legal challenges have been suspended while the EPA reconsiders and likely modifies the rule. Accordingly, the Company has largely eliminated its estimate of the environmental capital expenditures that would have been required to comply with permits incorporating the revised guidelines. The Company will revisit these estimates after the rule is revised.
Byproducts, Wastes, Hazardous Materials and Contamination
In April 2015, the EPA finalized the rule regulating byproducts of coal combustion (e.g., ash and gypsum) as solid wastes under the RCRA. On September 13, 2017, the EPA granted the petition for reconsideration that the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group filed in May 2017. The Company has evaluated the impact of the new rule on the Company's consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows and has accrued its environmental and asset retirement obligations under the rule based on current estimates as of December 31, 2017.
New Source Review — The EPA and various states have been investigating compliance of electric generating facilities with the pre-construction permitting requirements of the CAA known as “new source review,” or NSR. In 2007, Midwest Generation received an NOV from the EPA alleging that past work at Crawford, Fisk, Joliet, Powerton, Waukegan and Will County generating stations violated NSR and other regulations. These alleged violations are the subject of litigation described in Item 15 — Note 22, Commitments and Contingencies. Additionally, in April 2013, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issued four NOVs alleging that past work at oil-fired combustion turbines at the Torrington Terminal, Franklin, Branford and Middletown generating stations violated regulations regarding NSR.
Burton Island Old Ash Landfill — In January 2006, NRG's Indian River Power LLC was notified that it may be a potentially responsible party with respect to Burton Island Old Ash Landfill, a historic captive landfill located at the Indian River facility. On October 1, 2007, NRG signed an agreement with DNREC to investigate the site through the Voluntary Clean-up Program, or the VCP. On February 4, 2008, DNREC issued findings that no further action was required in relation to surface water and that a previously planned shoreline stabilization project would satisfactorily address shoreline erosion. The landfill itself required a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study to determine the type and scope of any additional required work. DNREC approved the Feasibility Study in December 2012. In January 2013, DNREC proposed a remediation plan based on the Feasibility Study. The remediation plan was approved in October 2013. In December 2015, DNREC approved the Company's remediation design, the Company's Closure Report and the Company's Long Term Stewardship Plan. In the second quarter of 2017, the Company completed the remediation requirements in the remediation plan. The cost of completing the work required by the remediation plan was within amounts budgeted in early 2016 and remediation was completed in 2017. The estimated cost to comply with the Long-Term Stewardship Plan was added to the liability in December 2016.