TransAlta to phase out coal boilers in Wash. state

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5 | Sat Mar 5, 2011 6:55pm EST

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5 (Reuters) - A bill to close two coal
boilers at a TransAlta Corp (TAC.N) (TA.TO) power plant in
Centralia, Washington, and phase out coal-fired power in the
state will go to lawmakers under a deal on Saturday between the
company and the state's governor.

One coal boiler will be shut no later than the end of
December 2020 and the other by the end of December 2025 under
terms of the agreement, which allows TransAlta to sell
long-term contracts for coal-fired power to help finance a
transition to gas-fueled energy, a proclamation from Governor
Christine Gregoire's office said.

The agreement requires TransAlta to install additional air
pollution control technology to further reduce emissions of
nitrogen oxides at its plant in the Centralia area.

The Calgary, Alberta-headquartered energy provider will
also provide $30 million to a community investment fund for
energy efficiency projects and $25 million for an energy
technology transition fund to support innovative energy
technologies and companies in Washington state.

"This compromise promises cleaner air for our future, while
providing the necessary time to make sure economic stability, job
protection and enough power on the grid to keep our homes and
businesses running," Gregoire said in the proclamation.

The agreement will be incorporated into a proposed bill.

A spokesman for the Sierra Club environmental group
predicted lawmakers would approve the bill, adding, "We were
approaching for a quicker retirement but this agreement allows for a
smooth transition in the community and time to reconfigure the
electrical grid to integrate the region's abundant wind and
solar resources instead of rushing to gas."

The legislation "meets our commitment to a low-carbon
future through transition from coal to gas in Washington,
significantly reduces our environmental risk and allows us to
provide honest shareholder value through favorable long-term
contracts while protecting jobs and the economy of the local
community," TransAlta Chief Executive Stephen Snyder said in
the proclamation. (Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: Reuters.Com