Parish Generating Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Washington A. Parish Electric Generating Station is a 2,736.8-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by NRG Energy near Thompsons, Texas.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Texas Genco II
  • Parent Company: NRG Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 2,736.8 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 5: 734.1 MW (1977), Unit 6: 734.1 MW (1978), Unit 7: 614.6 MW (1980), Unit 8: 654.0 MW (1982)
  • Location: 2500 Y.U. Jones Rd., Thompsons, TX 77481
  • GPS Coordinates: 29.475722, -95.636167
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Sub Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Buckskin Mine (Kiewit), Rawhide Mine (Peabody Energy), Black Thunder Mine (Arch Coal), Caballo Mine (Peabody Energy)[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 21,076,082 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 56,438 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 5,307 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 957 lb.

Carbon capture

The plant is also the site of the Petra Nova Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project.

Project summary

The Parish station has 10 generating units, one of which has been upgraded with carbon capture, Unit 8. The unit is 615 MW. About 40% (240 MW) of the unit's exhaust is diverted into a ‘post-combustion capture’ system designed to capture 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2), along with particulates, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. The captured carbon dioxide is pumped 82 miles to the West Ranch oil field in Jackson County, Texas. Drillers estimate that the field holds 60 million barrels that could be recovered with the captured carbon.[2]

NRG built a separate gas fired power station next to the facility to generate the electricity and steam needed to run the CCS process. According to Quora, given the high energy demand for the CO2 capture process and the carbon leakage that results from pumping the CO2 into oil fields, the actual reduction of emissions from the Parish power station is probably around 6%, not 40%, without accounting for the CO2 emissions from burning the recovered oil.[3]

DOE selects NRG Energy for carbon capture project in Texas

In September 2009, NRG announced that it was applying for funding from the Department of Energy to subsidize the cost of installing carbon capture and storage equipment at Parish. The company would not disclose the cost of the equipment. The demonstration project would capture about 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from 60 megawatts of power generation.[4]

In March 2010 it was announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected NRG to receive US$154 million, which includes funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to construct a "post-combustion carbon capture demonstration unit" outside of Houston at the company's Parish Generating Station. The project is scheduled to go online in 2013.[5]

Ownership and funding

NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp., Japan’s largest oil producer, are running the Petra Nova project as a 50-50 joint venture under the umbrella of Petra Nova Parish Holdings LLC. The US$1.04 billion project received US$300 million each from NRG and JX Nippon. NRG also received US$167 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative, plus another US$23 million from DOE under Section 313 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 for the carbon capture system. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Mizuho Bank Ltd. are also providing loans totaling US$250 million.[2][6]

NRG said it will not fund more CCS

In October 2015 NRG Energy said that while it will complete the construction of the Petra Nova Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project at the Parish coal plant in Texas, it will not invest in further projects. NRG Chief Executive David Crane acknowledges that CCS for enhanced oil recovery was attractive when the oil price was between US$75 to $100 a barrel but, with oil selling for US$45 a barrel, it is no longer viable.[7]

CCS project goes online in 2017

In January 2017 it was reported the CCS project would go online that month.[8] It was declared operational on January 10, 2017.[9]

CCS project closed down in 2021

In January 2021, NRG Energy announced that it was closing down indefinitely the Petra Nova gas plant, the power source for the carbon capture project, citing the fact that depressed oil prices triggered by the coronavirus pandemic had made the project uneconomical. A company spokesman said that the gas unit would be preserved in the event that the carbon capture system is some day restarted.[10]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Parish 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.[11] 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.[12]

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

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 49 $350,000,000
Heart attacks 70 $7,600,000
Asthma attacks 980 $51,000
Hospital admissions 37 $850,000
Chronic bronchitis 33 $15,000,000
Asthma ER visits 60 $22,000

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

Parish ranked 6th in terms of largest carbon dioxide emissions

According to a 2009 report by Environment America, "America's Biggest Polluters," the Parish Generating Station is the sixth dirtiest plant in the nation, releasing 20.9 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2007. Ranking is based upon Environmental Protection Agency data.[13]

Articles and Resources


  1. "EIA 923 July 2020" EIA 923 July 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Umair Irfan, "World's Largest Carbon-Capture Plant to Open Soon," ClimateWire, October 4, 2016
  3. "Does the best CCS power station in the world provide a model for Australia?" Quora, Mayh 30, 2017
  4. Elizabeth Souder, "NRG applies to Department of Energy for funding of clean coal equipment," Dallas Morning News, September 2, 2009.
  5. "DOE picks NRG for carbon capture demonstration project in Texas" Electric Light & Power, March 30, 2010.
  6. Stephen Edelstein, "First Carbon Capture Plants Come on Line This Year," Green Car Reports, January 20, 2017
  7. Jordan Blum, "Low oil prices cloud futures of clean coal and carbon capture," Houston Chronicle, October 2, 2015
  8. "Texas carbon capture project to go online this month, raising hope for the beleaguered technology," West Side Story, Jan 3, 2017
  9. Chris Mooney, "America’s first ‘clean coal’ plant is now operational — and another is on the way," WaPo, Jan 10, 2017
  10. "Power plant linked to idled U.S. carbon capture project will shut indefinitely - NRG," Reuters, Jan. 29, 2021
  11. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  12. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  13. "America's Biggest Polluters: Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants in 2007" Environment America, November 24, 2009

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