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{note: I am not Congressman Kennedy. This diary is crossposted at my blog BlueClimate}

If you have heard of the Texas utility company TXU maybe it was because they have become the poster child for irresponsible corporate behavior when it comes to climate change and other environmental issues.

Environmental groups have been joined by elected officials and business leaders arguing that TXU's plan to build 11 new coal plants will drastically increase emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide, worsening the state's air quality and contributing to global warming.

(...)

Critics say TXU is using old coal technology and only wants to boost profits while adding more pollution to the Texas sky in hopes of beating the deadline for future laws to restrict coal-plant emissions.

"The company will more than double its emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary man-made greenhouse gas, from 55 million tons a year to 133 million tons a year," said Jim Marson, regional director of Environmental Defense in Austin.

Well yesterday we learned that there was a bid to buy TXU. The bidders include the ultimate winners in the Barbarians at the Gate (a very entertaining movie) showdown. The Washington Post has the story.

A consortium led by private-equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Texas Pacific Group is nearing a deal worth close to $45 billion for a Texas energy giant in what would be the largest leveraged buyout ever, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

So, if the buyout goes through will the company continue to build all those dirty coal power plants? Apparently not, at least according to this press release that was put up on Business Wire by a public relations company.

   

February 24, 2007 09:16 PM Eastern Time


   


Record TXU Buyout Includes Unprecedented Global Warming, Emissions Plan



Outside Advocates Help Engineer Course Change Toward Clean, Efficient Vision; Bold Move Signals Beginning of the End for Old-Style Coal Investment in U.S.


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The record-setting buyout of the utility giant TXU being proposed by a group of top private equity investors includes an unprecedented set of commitments developed in close consultation with leading environmental experts to reverse the company's drive to build a new fleet of high-emission coal power plants in favor of a new strategy focused on energy efficiency, clean technology and a commitment to cut global warming pollution, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has been involved in the extensive negotiations.


"This turnaround marks the beginning of a new, competitive focus on clean, efficient, renewable energy strategies to deliver the power we need while cutting global warming emissions," said NRDC President Frances Beinecke."It is a big step forward for the State of Texas and for the American energy economy as a whole."


Arrangements with the two buyout firms, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Texas Pacific Group, include a commitment to withdraw permit applications for eight of eleven pulverized coal power plants proposed in Texas. The prospective owners would also throw their support behind a mandatory nationwide limit on global warming emissions paired with a market-based emissions trading system. They also say they will endorse the positions of the recently-announced U.S. Climate Action Partnership, and will seek to formally join the group of companies and environmental organizations already involved.


The new company would aim to limit its total CO2 emissions from its
generating operations and reduce them over time, and pledge not to propose any additional traditional pulverized coal plants outside Texas.


"What we’re witnessing is the beginning of the end of investments in old-fashioned coal plants," said David G. Hawkins, a former top EPA official with more than 35 years experience in utility environmental issues, who heads NRDC’s Climate Center. "These are very big investors coming to the energy table with very big ideas about where the competitive market is heading. Strategies to fight global warming and save energy are crucial for anyone hoping to succeed in today’s electricity industry."


The new investors also plan to invest $400 million in initiatives to help customers reduce their energy needs over the next five years, a strategy known as"demand-side management"(DSM), as a way to meet Texas energy needs while reducing the need to build expensive new generating capacity. The company will also expand its investment in energy generated from renewable sources including wind and solar, and take steps to increase its own energy efficiency.


The bidders say they will also begin to explore a variety of new coal generating technologies including integrated combined cycle gasification (IGCC) and flue gas/algae carbon capture.


Finally, executive compensation and performance measurement at the new company would be tied directly to the climate protection goals. There will also be a new, impartial Sustainable Energy Advisory Board consisting of experts in carbon-neutral energy technologies, environmental policy, and Texas reliability standards.


The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Beijing. For more information on how to green an event or organization, go to www.nrdc.org.

The pledge to join the U.S Climate Action Partnership is particularly impressive. That partnership of businesses and advocacy groups calls for using science to set emission reduction targets and recommends mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to meet those targets.


This is a press release so you expect it to emphasize the positive. Still, if the sale goes through and these commitments are kept, this is a huge change of direction for TXU. What are we going to see next? ExxonMobil coming out in favor of caps on greenhouse gas emissions?

Originally posted to Patrick Kennedy on Sat Feb 24, 2007 at 08:20 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm TXU CEO, if you don't stop me I'll (0+ / 0-)

    pollute you to death...

    Come on, suckers, try and stop me.....

    Hello, boys and girls, can you spell sociopath?

    No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible. Voltaire

    by captainlaser on Sat Feb 24, 2007 at 08:23:52 PM PST

  •  Great gate crashing story (0+ / 0-)

    I hope this succeeds in reigning in TXU.  Coal is rapidly becoming the new oil for the Bushies.  It is not just its burning that creates problems.  It is mountain top removal and other unsound extraction practices to maximize profit that threatens the environment.  ExxonMobil will never change its ways.  

    A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

    by DWG on Sat Feb 24, 2007 at 08:25:12 PM PST

    •  You may be right... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruinKid, overlander, DWG

      that ExxonMobil will never change it's ways. However I would not have seen this kind of a business deal come forward either. To me it says that people who invest a lot of money have decided that there are going to be restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. That is a very encouraging sign for the prospects of seriously addressing global warming.

      •  The difference (0+ / 0-)

        TXU is tied to a specific location with accountability and regulation.  ExxonMobil is a global corporation with no ties to a specific region and weak accountability.  Even when Exxon is found to be culpable of negligence in polluting the Alaskan coast because of the Exxon Valdez, they manage to spend a fortune fighting the case in federal courts.

        A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

        by DWG on Sat Feb 24, 2007 at 09:18:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Forgive the skepticism (0+ / 0-)

    but I will believe it when I see that they follow thru on their promises.

  •  nice diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patrick Kennedy

    wasn't aware of this - very good to hear

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