RRI Energy

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RRI Energy Inc.
Type Public (NYSERRI)
Headquarters 1000 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002
Area served NY, TX
Key people Mark M. Jacobs, CEO
Industry Electric Producer, Distributor, & Utility
Products Electricity
Revenue $11.21 billion (2007)[1]
Net income $365.1 million (2007)[1]
Employees 3,698 (2007)
Divisions Reliant Retail Energy
Reliant Wholesale Energy
Subsidiaries Orion Power Holdings
Website Reliant.com

RRI Energy Inc. (formerly Reliant Energy), based in Houston, Texas, is a wholesale electricity provider.

In Texas, RRI services nearly 1.9 million retail electricity customers, including residential, small business, commercial, industrial, governmental and institutional customers. RRI also serves commercial, industrial, governmental and institutional customers in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland (PJM) market, and is one of the largest independent power producers in the United States, with approximately 16,000 megawatts (MW) of power generation.[2] It is now part of NRG Energy.[3]

On December 3, 2010, RRI Energy merged with Mirant to form GenOn Energy, and the corporate names and logos of both RRI Energy and Mirant were retired.[4]


In 2002, Texas deregulated its electricity market and Reliant now competes against other energy companies like Direct Energy, Stream Energy, Gexa Energy, Cirro Energy. At this time, Reliant Energy also separated into two publicly traded companies: Reliant Resources, Inc. and CenterPoint Energy, Inc.

CenterPoint was created when Reliant Energy merged with an indirect subsidiary of CenterPoint Energy, Inc. A regulated utility, CenterPoint Energy became one of the largest U.S. energy delivery companies, serving 4.7 million metered customers. In late 2002, CenterPoint distributed the stock of Reliant Resources, Inc. to CenterPoint shareholders. This spinoff created Reliant Resources with a strategy to provide competitive wholesale and retail energy service under the Reliant Energy brand. Its businesses included power generation and retail energy services in Texas’ newly deregulated electricity market. On the wholesale side, Reliant owned, had an interest in, or leased 37 operating power generation facilities serving five regions of the United States.

In January 2007, the Texas electricity market became fully deregulated, and Reliant began to offer an array of products, flexible service options, and pricing arrangements to a variety of customers. At this time, Reliant was the second largest mass market electricity provider in the state of Texas, with an annual revenue of $10.9 billion and more than 3,500 employees. In February 2007, Reliant Energy announced plans for Mark Jacobs, current chief financial operator, to succeed Joel Staff as chief executive officer and for Brian Landrum to become chief operating officer.

In May 2009, Reliant changed its name to RRI Energy, after completing the sale of its Texas retail business, which included the Reliant Energy name, to NRG Energy. With the sale, RRI Energy is now purely a wholesale power generator, selling bulk power at market prices rather than at a regulated rate.[5]

Power portfolio

Out of its total 21,551 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (2.02% of the U.S. total), RRI produced 54.2% from natural gas, 37.7% from coal, and 8.0% from oil. RRI owns power plants in California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.[6]

Existing coal-fired power plants

RRI owned 26 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 8,134 MW of capacity. Here is a list of Reliant's coal power plants:[6][7][8]

Plant Name State County Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions
Conemaugh PA Indiana 1970, 1971 1872 MW 12,100,000 tons 8,037 tons
Keystone PA Armstrong 1967, 1968 1872 MW 11,500,000 tons 164,354 tons
Avon Lake OH Lorain 1949, 1970 766 MW 2,574,000 tons 43,479 tons
Cheswick PA Allegheny 1970 637 MW 3,161,000 tons 32,373 tons
Shawville PA Clearfield 1954, 1959, 1960 626 MW 3,107,000 tons 47,287 tons
Seward PA Indiana 2004 585 MW 3,269,000 tons 18,531 tons
Elrama PA Washington 1952, 1953, 1954, 1960 510 MW 2,440,000 tons 4,675 tons
Portland PA Northampton 1958, 1962 427 MW 2,159,000 tons 30,685 tons
New Castle PA Lawrence 1952, 1958, 1964 348 MW 1,669,000 tons 21,836 tons
Niles OH Trumbull 1954 266 MW 1,080,000 tons 22,490 tons
Titus PA Berks 1951, 1953 225 MW 1,209,000 tons 15,963 tons

In 2006, RRI's 11 coal-fired power plants emitted 44.3 million tons of CO2 (0.73% of all U.S. CO2 emissions) and 410,000 tons of SO2 (2.73% of all U.S. SO2 emissions). In terms of SO2 emissions per MWh in 2006, Reliant's Portland plant is the 5th dirtiest in the U.S., followed closely by Shawville (7th), Keystone (10th), Avon Lake (11th), and Cheswick (17th).

New Jersey sues over RRI plant emissions

In May 2010, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency against RRI Energy's Portland Generating Station, contending that it regularly exceeds federal clean-air standards and pollutes Warren County, NJ. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also voiced concerns about the facility when she was New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection commissioner from 2006 until 2008; in 2007, Jackson filed a lawsuit, which is still active, making similar claims about EPA inaction. The EPA said it is putting off any action until January 2011.[9]

On March 31, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the petition by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to limit sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from the Portland plant. The petition said the plant adversely impacted air quality in four northwest NJ counties: Warren, Sussex, Morris, and Hunterdon. The EPA ordered the plant to reduce its SO2 emissions by 81 percent over a three year period.[10]

Coal lobbying

RRI Energy is a member of the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA), an umbrella lobbying group for all coal ash interests that includes major coal burners Duke Energy, Southern Company and American Electric Power as well as dozens of other companies. The group argues that the so-called "beneficial-use industry" would be eliminated if a "hazardous" designation was given for coal ash waste.[11]

ACAA set up a front group called Citizens for Recycling First, which argues that using toxic coal ash as fill in other products is safe, despite evidence to the contrary.[11]

Coal Waste

Report says Pennsylvania coal ash dump is not adequately protected against groundwater contamination

A May 2009 study released by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Earthjustice said that a 15-acre coal ash dump in Upper Mount Bethel Township, PA was not properly lined and did not have adequate controls to prevent groundwater contamination. The dump contains coal ash from the 427-megawatt Portland Generating Station, owned by RRI Energy. The report comes from previously unreleased data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency.[12]

Lisa Widawksy, an attorney for EIP, said that if the dump contaminates the groundwater with arsenic, nearby residents who drink well water could face cancer risks of 50 times higher than what EPA considers safe. Upper Mount Bethel Township Supervisor Judith Henckel said the power company needs to do more on environmental clean up.[12]

Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Reliant's Seward coal waste site

The study "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash," released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011, reported elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, a highly potent cancer-causing chemical, at several coal ash sites in Pennsylvania.[13] In all, the study cited 29 sites in 17 states where hexavalent chromium contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash as well as from studies by EarthJustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club.[14][15][16][17] It included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin.[13]

According to the report, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was found at elevated levels at the following sites:[13]

  • Reliant Energy's Seward Power Plant's unlined coal waste pond and landfill at 330 ppb - 16,500 times the proposed California drinking water goals and 3.3 times above the federal drinking water standard.

A press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[18]

According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.[13]

Reliant's Keystone plant first in toxic emissions, 10th mercury emissions

According to a July 2011 NRDC report, "How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States," Keystone Generating Station released the most toxic air pollutants annually of any plant in the nation - 15.5 million pounds - based on data from the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (2009 data, accessed June 2011).

A 2010 report by the Environmental Integrity Project using EPA data found that Keystone is the 10th worst mercury polluter in the United States, emitting 1,000 pounds of mercury in 2008, the most recent year for data, up from 846 pounds in 2007, a 18.15 percent increase.[19]

California energy crisis

In March of 2004, a grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Reliant Energy Services, Inc. and four of its officers—Jackie Thomas, a former vice president of Reliant's Power Trading Division; Reggie Howard, a former director of Reliant's West Power Trading Division; Lisa Flowers, a term trader for Reliant's West Power Trading Division; and Kevin Frankeny, Reliant's manager of western operations—for their alleged role in the California electricity crisis. All of the defendants are residents of Texas.

The defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and commodities manipulation and wire fraud, as well as manipulation and attempted manipulation of the price of a commodity in interstate commerce.[20] The indictments were filed on April 8, 2004.[21] On August 15, 2005, Reliant announced that it had reached a $445 million settlement with the states of California, Oregon and Washington, resolving civil litigation claims against the company related to the sale of electricity in the California electricity crisis of 2000 and 2001. In March 2007, Reliant agreed to pay a $22.2 million penalty in addition to a $13.8 million credit provided in a previous settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.[22]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Reliant Energy Inc., BusinessWeek Company Insight Center, accessed July 2008.
  2. Yahoo! - Reliant Energy, Inc. Company Profile
  3. "About Reliant" Reliant Energy Website, September 2009
  4. Template:Cite press release
  5. "RRI Energy Posts 1Q Loss On Revenue Slump, Cuts View," Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States 2005", Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  7. Environmental Integrity Project, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants, July 2007.
  8. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  9. Brian Murray, "N.J. environmental official urges quick response to Warren County coal plant pollution" NJ.com, July 12, 2010.
  10. David Gabel, "EPA Rules Pennsylvania Plant Must Lower Emissions into New Jersey Air" Environmental News Network, April 1, 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Coal-Fired Utilities to American Public: Kiss my Ash DeSmogBlog.com & PolluterWatch, October 27, 2010.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Chris Knight, "Environmental group says Slate Belt coal-ash dump inadequately protecting against groundwater contamination," Express-Times, May 11, 2009.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  14. "Damage Case Report for Coal Combustion Wastes," August 2008
  15. U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
  16. EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," August 2010
  17. EarthJustice and Environmental Integrity Project, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," May 2010
  18. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer, Examiner.com, February 1, 2011.
  19. "Dirty Kilowatts: America's Top 50 Power Plant Mercury Polluters" EIP Report, March 2010.
  20. New York Times - Reliant Told of Indictment
  21. Reliant Indicted for Manufacturing California Energy Crisis
  22. "Nevada Power plans to buy plant, sources say" Las Vegas Review-Journal, March 24, 2007.

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External Articles

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