Big Cajun II Power Plant

From Global Energy Monitor
(Redirected from Big Cajun 2 power plant)

Big Cajun II Power Plant is a 1,902.9-megawatt (MW) gas- and coal-fired power station near New Roads, Louisiana.


Loading map...

Plant Data

  • Owner:
  • Parent Company:
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,902.9 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 657.9 MW (1981), Unit 2: 626.0 MW (1982), Unit 3: 619.0 MW (1983)
  • Location: 9951 Cajun 2 Rd., New Roads, LA 70760
  • GPS Coordinates: 30.726667, -91.366944
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Sub Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Buckskin Mine (Kiewit)[3]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Conversions: Unit 2 was converted to natural gas in 2015.
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 1 is scheduled for retirement in 2025. [4]

Unit 2 conversion

Unit 2 (626 MW) stopped burning coal in 2015,[5] and was converted to a 540 MW gas plant in 2016.[6]


In February 2019 NRG Energy closed on the previously announced sale of NRG South Central Generating LLC to Cleco Corporate Holdings LLC (Cleco) for US$1 billion in cash. The sale included ownership of Big Cajun II.[7]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 14,300,000 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 44,556 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions:
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions:

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Big Cajun II Power Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[8] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[9]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Big Cajun II Power Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 30 $220,000,000
Heart attacks 41 $4,400,000
Asthma attacks 520 $27,000
Hospital admissions 21 $490,000
Chronic bronchitis 18 $8,100,000
Asthma ER visits 33 $12,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Big Cajun II ranked 42nd on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[10] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[11]

Big Cajun II Power Plant ranked number 42 on the list, with 860,640 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[10]

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Louisiana, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[12] The report mentioned Louisiana based Big Cajun II Power Plant, Dolet Hills Power Station and the Rodemacher Power Station were three sites that have groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[13]

NRG using Big Cajun II in biomass pilot project

In September 2009, NRG announced it was replacing some coal at Big Cajun II with switchgrass and sorgham. The company said the project could eventually lead to commercial-scale biomass fuel projects as a means of dealing with potential greenhouse gas regulations.[14]

Citizen groups



  1. "Cleco power 10-k 2019, page 12" accessed July 2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Generation Portfolio", accessed July 2020
  3. "EIA 923 March 2020" EIA 923 2020.
  4. "Sierra Club Secures Cleco Commitment to Replace Uneconomic Coal-Burning Generation and build Clean Energy," Sierra Club, January 16, 2019
  5. Sierra Club list of US coal plant retirements, Oct. 5, 2016
  6. Robert Walton, "NRG completes conversion of 4 coal plants to burn natural gas," Utility Drive, Dec 23, 2016
  7. "NRG Closes on Sale of its South Central Business," NRG, Feb 4, 2019
  8. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  9. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  11. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  12. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  13. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  14. "Utility Replaces Some Coal With Switchgrass," New York Times, October 1, 2009.

External Sources

Related articles