NRG settles lawsuit with N.J., Conn., over coal-fired power plant in Pa.

TRENTON – A power company has announced it will stop using coal at a power plant in Pennsylvania, settling a lawsuit with New Jersey and Connecticut.

NRG Energy announced Wednesday it will cease using coal at two units generating electricity at its facility in Mount Bethel, ending a lawsuit that dates to 2007.

“NRG only acquired the Portland plant in December 2012 when we closed our merger with GenOn – but we immediately started working with New Jersey and Connecticut and were able to resolve this issue without additional delay or cost to taxpayers,” said Lee Davis, president of NRG’s East Region, in a release announcing the settlement.

The lawsuit alleged Clean Air Act violations that predated NRG’s acquisition of the plant, according to NRG.

NRG said that it will stop using coal as fuel in the two units June 1, 2014. The units were previously scheduled to be deactivated on Jan. 6, 2015. NRG has also agreed to invest $1 million to benefit the environment in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Environmentalists lauded the decision.

“We are glad they are going to be stopping their use of coal six months earlier, which will help us breath a little easier sooner,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the N.J. Sierra Club, in a release. 

“It is important because this is now an enforceable agreement, it is no longer voluntary.  However our concern is that they could end up repowering the plant as natural gas, which would mean the use of more fossil fuel and promoting fracking.”

Fracking is hydraulic fracturing, a controversial gas exploration practice in use in Pennsylvania that still is being debated in New Jersey. NRG settles lawsuit with N.J., Conn., over coal-fired power plant in Pa.