|NRG ENERGY, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 03/01/2018|
Greenhouse Gas Emissions — NRG emits CO2 and small quantities of other greenhouse gases, or GHGs, when generating electricity at most of its facilities. The graphs presented below illustrate NRG's domestic emissions of CO2e for 2015, 2016 and 2017. A significant majority (>99%) of NRG's emission sources are subject to federal (U.S. EPA) GHG reporting requirements programs. NRG anticipates further reductions in CO2e emissions as the Company modernizes the fleet. From 2016 to 2017, the Company's CO2e emissions decreased from 48 million metric tons to approximately 46 million metric tons, representing a 4% reduction year over year. The primary factor leading to the decreased emissions include reductions in fleet wide annual net generation due to a continued market-driven shift towards increased generation from natural gas over coal. The Company's goal is to reduce CO2e emissions by 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050, using 2014 as a baseline.
The effects from federal, regional or state regulation of GHGs on the Company's financial performance will depend on a number of factors, including the outcome of the legal challenges and actions of the current U.S. presidential administration.
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.
Domestic Site Remediation Matters
Under certain federal, state and local environmental laws, a current or previous owner or operator of any facility, including an electric generating facility, may be required to investigate and remediate releases or threatened releases of hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum products. NRG may be responsible for property damage, personal injury and investigation and remediation costs incurred by a party in connection with hazardous material releases or threatened releases. These laws, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, or SARA, impose liability without regard to whether the owner knew of or caused the presence of the hazardous substances, and the courts have interpreted liability under such laws to be strict (without fault) and joint and several. Cleanup obligations can often be triggered during the closure or decommissioning of a facility, in addition to spills during its operations. Further discussions of affected NRG sites can be found in Item 15 — Note 24, Environmental Matters, to the Consolidated Financial Statements.