Mercer Generating Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Mercer Generating Station was a 652.8-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by Public Service Enterprise Group near Hamilton, New Jersey.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Public Service Electric & Gas Fossil LLC
  • Parent Company: Public Service Enterprise Group
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 652.8 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 326.4 MW (1960), Unit 2: 326.4 MW (1961)
  • Location: Lamberton Rd., Hamilton, NJ 08611
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.182267, -74.731944
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Buchanan Mine 1 (Consol)[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Both units retired in 2017.[2]

Plant Retirement

The plant will be will be retired on June 1, 2017. Plant owner PSE&G Power said it "could not justify the significant investment required" to upgrade the plant "to meet the new reliability standards," given the lower cost of electricity alternatives.[3]

PSEG Fossil L.L.C. Civil Judicial Settlement

On November 30, 2006 the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice along with the State of New Jersey announced a settlement with Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) related to the company's failure to comply with a 2002 consent decree that required the utility to install pollution control devices at two of its coal-fired power plants.

PSEG was required to pay a civil penalty of $6 million – $4.25 million to the federal government and $1.75 million to New Jersey. Under settlement agreements PSEG was also required to spend $3.25 million on environmental mitigation projects.

The amended agreement, signed by the United States and the State of New Jersey, requires the electric utility to accelerate the installation of air pollution control equipment at its Mercer Generating Station, to install additional control equipment that was not previously required and to carry out a host of interim pollution control measures in exchange for delaying the installation of pollution controls required under the original timeline at PSEG's Hudson Generating Station.

The EPA notes that "Under the 2002 consent decree, PSEG was required to install pollution control equipment at the Mercer and Hudson plants to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), and take steps to reduce mercury and carbon dioxide emissions. The utility did install pollution control equipment for nitrogen oxides known as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) at its Mercer plant. SCR is capable of reducing nitrogen oxides by approximately 90%. However, PSEG has failed to take the necessary steps to install required pollution control equipment at the Hudson facility as required by the original settlement."

The settlement required PSEG to install an acid gas scrubber for removing sulfur dioxide from (SO2) exhaust gases produced by the power plant – at one of the Mercer plants as well as one at an additional Mercer plant by 2010. In addition, PSEG agreed to install baghouses or dust collection chambers at its Mercer plant.

PSEG was also required to meet new NOx emissions limit at the Mercer plant starting January 1, 2007. In addition, the company was required to install baghouses or dust collection chambers at its Mercer plant to cut pollution more than a less effective technology it was previously using. Lastly, PSEG is required to use carbon injection systems, not previously required, to reduce mercury emissions from the Mercer facility.

The EPA also stated that these measures include year-round operation of the existing NOx control equipment "utilizing selective non-catalytic reduction to reduce NOx, use of ultra-low sulfur coal, compliance with annual emission caps for NOx and SO2, and operation of an electrostatic precipitator and a fly ash conditioning system to control PM. Installation of permanent controls will be delayed until December 31, 2010, unless PSEG chooses to shut down the unit altogether in 2008."[4]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 3,246,945 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 14,517 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 3,891 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 87 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Mercer Generating Station

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.[5] 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.[6]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Mercer Generating Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 16 $120,000,000
Heart attacks 30 $3,200,000
Asthma attacks 280 $14,000
Hospital admissions 14 $310,000
Chronic bronchitis 10 $4,600,000
Asthma ER visits 11 $4,000

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