|NRG ENERGY, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 03/01/2018|
Nuclear Waste — The federal government's program to construct a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada was discontinued in 2010. Since 1998, the U.S. DOE has been in default of the federal government's obligations to begin accepting spent nuclear fuel, or SNF, and high-level radioactive waste, or HLW, under the U.S. Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, or the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Owners of nuclear plants, including the owners of STP, had been required to enter into contracts setting out the obligations of the owners and the U.S. DOE, including the fees to be paid by the owners for the U.S. DOE's services to license a spent fuel repository. Effective May 16, 2014, the U.S. DOE stopped collecting the fees.
On February 5, 2013, STPNOC entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. DOE for payment of damages relating to the U.S. DOE's failure to accept SNF and HLW under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act through December 31, 2013, which was extended through an addendum dated January 24, 2014, to December 31, 2016. On December 12, 2016, STPNOC received the federal government's offer of another three-year extension of payment for continued failure to accept SNF and HLW. The proposal was reviewed and accepted. There are no facilities for the reprocessing or permanent disposal of SNF currently in operation in the U.S., nor has the NRC licensed any such facilities. STPNOC currently stores all SNF generated by its nuclear generating facilities in on-site storage pools. Since STPNOC's SNF storage pools do not have sufficient storage capacity for the life of the units, STPNOC is proceeding to construct dry cask storage capability on-site. STPNOC plans to continue to assert claims against the U.S. DOE for damages relating to the U.S. DOE's failure to accept SNF and HLW.
Under the federal Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980, as amended, the state of Texas is required to provide, either on its own or jointly with other states in a compact, for the disposal of all low-level radioactive waste generated within the state. STP's warehouse capacity is adequate for on-site storage until a site in Andrews County, Texas becomes fully operational.
Clean Water Act — The Company is required under the CWA to comply with intake and discharge requirements, requirements for technological controls and operating practices. As with air quality regulations, federal and state water regulations have become more stringent and imposed new requirements.
Once Through Cooling Regulation — In August 2014, 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.
Regional Environmental Developments
New Source Review — 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.