AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Xcel Energy announced today the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reached an agreement with the company to convert a major power plant to natural gas fuel system to meet national air standards.
Since 1976, Excel Energy’s Harrington plant has been using coal to keep your lights on, but last month the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality settled a case with the utility company to convert that station, located in the northeast of Amarillo, from burning coal to burning natural gas to produce electricity.
“We can leave it as a coal plant and put on additional emissions control,” said Wes Reeves, senior media relations representative. "Which can cost hundreds of millions of dollars or we can just convert to natural gas.”
The commission said in a statement, the conversion will help reduce the chemical sulfur dioxide (SO2) in Potter County’s air, which is an irritant that affects your eyes, skin and respiratory system. The rate of SO2 currently is higher than national standards allow.
“That’s the number one goal here, is to make our air breathable," said Reeves. "So, when you look at sulfur dioxide and other emissions that come from a coal plant they can actually make the air visibly dirty but they can make the air less quality breathing so, I think the health benefits are great there.”
All the units of the Harrington plant were designed to burn natural gas as well. Therefore, switching the units to gas will have a minimal cost impact.
This is not the only renewable energy project Xcel has in the works. In December, the company will place a wind energy facility in Roosevelt County, New Mexico.
The company is expecting to finish the switch to natural gas by January of 2025 and be 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.