EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - East Texas will soon be home to some new solar farms. It’s a part of an effort for more renewable energy by the Texas-based company Vistra, the parent company of Luminant Energy.
The two solar farms are set to be constructed in the Forest Grove area of Henderson County, and northeast of the city of Henderson in Rusk County.
From Chopper 7, we could see the old Oak Hill lignite mine that was closed in 2016. What was once a busy coal mine, now sits empty. The space will soon be home to one of the new solar fields. Drone video provided by Vistra Corp shows solar farms that are already operational in West Texas.
The company isn’t giving a clear answer about how many jobs the new fields will offer, but it’s expected to be far less than the number of people it took to run the coal mine. More than 130 people were laid off when the mine closed in 2016.
A company spokesperson tells KLTV that each site will offer about 1,000 jobs during construction.
The president and CEO of Vistra, Curt Morgan says, "electricity is an essential resource, and the demand for it will continue to grow as climate initiatives are implemented and the economy is further electrified. So, while the way we produce electricity is changing, our essential role in the process and core mission will not.”
The company says these two solar farms will be 200 megawatt facilities. They’re both expected to go online in 2022.
News Release from Vistra Energy:
IRVING, Texas, Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Vistra (NYSE: VST) today announced a comprehensive plan to accelerate its transition to clean power generation sources and advance efforts to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. The company launched Vistra Zero, a portfolio of zero-carbon power generation facilities, including seven new developments announced today in its primary market of ERCOT that total nearly 1,000 megawatts. In addition, the company committed to more ambitious long-term emissions reduction targets, released its first climate report, and announced its intention to retire all of its generation subsidiaries' coal plants in Illinois and Ohio.
“The aggregate impact of these milestone initiatives is clear: Vistra’s commitment to our transformation to a low-to-no-carbon future is unequivocal and offers unique opportunities for growth and innovation,” said Curt Morgan, president and CEO of Vistra. “As evidenced by the actions we take and investments we make, Vistra is paving its way for a sustainable future – economically and environmentally – and we’ve been focused on transitioning our generation portfolio for the benefit of the environment, our customers, our communities, our people, and our shareholders.”
Morgan continued, “Importantly, Vistra’s leadership on these issues will not impact our core mission to provide consumers with reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy while lowering emissions. Electricity is an essential resource, and the demand for it will continue to grow as climate initiatives are implemented and the economy is further electrified. So, while the way we produce electricity is changing, our essential role in the process and core mission will not. Vistra is well-positioned to not only prove our resiliency during this important transformation to cleaner generation sources, but to lead the way. Our value proposition has never been stronger, and our sustainability has never been clearer. We are confident over time that the severe under-valuation of our stock price will be recognized, and our fair value achieved.”
New Zero-Carbon Development Projects: Vistra Zero
Vistra, which is already developing the world’s largest battery energy storage project, the 400-MW/1,600-MWh Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility in California, today announced that it is breaking ground on six new solar projects and one battery energy storage project. These new zero-carbon developments, which are part of a newly launched Vistra Zero portfolio, represent a capital investment of approximately $850 million and are all located in the attractive Texas ERCOT market where Vistra has a leadership position:
Expected online in 2021
- Andrews Solar Facility, Andrews County – 100 MW
- Brightside Solar Facility, Live Oak County – 50 MW
- Emerald Grove Solar Facility, Crane County – 108 MW
- Upton 2 Solar and Energy Storage Facility – Phase III, Upton County – 10 MW solar
- Additional solar capacity to be added to the already operational facility, bringing its total solar capacity to 190 MW
Expected online in 2022
- DeCordova Energy Storage Facility, Hood County – 260 MW/260 MWh
- Co-located on site of Luminant’s natural gas-fueled DeCordova Power Plant
- Forest Grove Solar Facility, Henderson County – 200 MW
- Oak Hill Solar Facility, Rusk County – 200 MW
The Vistra Zero portfolio also includes the company’s existing nuclear, renewable, and energy storage facilities:
- Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant (2,300 MW)
- Upton 2 Solar (180 MW) and Energy Storage Facility (10 MW/42 MWh)
- Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility (400 MW/1,600 MWh) – 300 MW Phase I expected online December 2020; 100 MW Phase II expected online by August 2021
- Oakland Energy Storage Facility (36.25 MW/ 145 MWh) – expected online January 2022
Inclusive of its new carbon-free projects, the Vistra Zero portfolio now consists of approximately 4,000 MW of zero-carbon assets. In addition, the company continues to evaluate additional solar and battery projects, including more than 1,000 MW in Texas, more than 1,000 MW in California, and approximately 450 MW in Illinois under the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act. Vistra is also exploring potential future development opportunities at many of the company’s existing power plant sites.
Updated 2030/2050 Emissions Reduction Targets
Consistent with its strategic priorities, the company also accelerated its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Vistra is now setting out to achieve a 60% reduction, up from 50%, in CO2 equivalent emissions by 2030 as compared to a 2010 baseline, and a long-term objective to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, up from an 80% reduction target, by 20501.
1 Assuming necessary advancements in technology and supportive market constructs and public policy.
CO2 Reductions Through Coal Retirements
Vistra also announced its next phase of coal plant closures in Illinois and Ohio. The company expects to retire seven Luminant power plants, of which the company owns a combined capacity of more than 6,800 MW, between 2022 and 2027.
By year-end 2022
- Edwards Power Plant, Bartonville, IL (MISO) – 585 MW previously announced
By year-end 2025 or sooner should economic or other conditions dictate
- Baldwin Power Plant, Baldwin, IL (MISO) – 1,185 MW
- Joppa Power Plant, Joppa, IL (MISO) – 1,002 MW (plus 239 MW of gas-fueled combustion turbines)1
By year-end 2027 or sooner should economic or other conditions dictate
- Kincaid Power Plant, Kincaid, IL (PJM) – 1,108 MW
- Miami Fort Power Plant, North Bend, OH (PJM) – 1,020 MW
- Newton Power Plant, Newton, IL (MISO) – 615 MW
- Zimmer Power Plant, Moscow, OH (PJM) – 1,300 MW
These plants, especially those operating in the irreparably dysfunctional MISO market, remain economically challenged. Today’s retirement announcements are also prompted by upcoming Environmental Protection Agency filing deadlines, which require either significant capital expenditures for compliance or retirement declarations.
“Our team members have gone above and beyond to make these plants viable, and they have been safely powering these communities with affordable and reliable electricity for decades,” said Jim Burke, chief operating officer of Vistra. “The advance notice of these retirements provides us with ample time to work with our impacted employees and communities to ease the impact of the closures, including seeking the passage of the Illinois Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act. We’ve proven ourselves in previous similar situations to live up to our core principles, taking care of our employees and communities. That will not change.”
Since the company’s leadership change in 2016, Vistra and its subsidiaries have closed or announced the closure of 19 coal plants totaling more than 16,000 MW across Texas (2018: Big Brown, Monticello, Sandow), Pennsylvania (2018: Northeastern Power Co.), Ohio (2018: J.M. Stuart, Killen; no later than 2027: Miami Fort, Zimmer), Illinois (2016: Wood River; 2019: Coffeen, Duck Creek, Havana, Hennepin; 2022: Edwards; no later than 2025: Baldwin, Joppa; no later than 2027: Kincaid, Newton), and Massachusetts (2017: Brayton Point). In total, Vistra and its subsidiaries have now retired or announced the retirement of more than 19,000 MW at 23 coal and natural gas plants since 2010.