I'm disappointed that NRG Energy executive Lee Davis chose to escalate the discussion about last year's blocked NOx regulations in his op-ed, "NRG Committed to Clean Air in Md." (May 11). In other regions, NRG is working hard to re-brand its image as a company moving away from burning coal and toward the clean power of the future. Given this, I'm mystified by their determination to keep four outmoded coal-fired power plants running instead of bringing their expertise in clean energy to Maryland.
Those units (along with three owned by Raven Power) cause nearly half of the ozone produced in Maryland on the hottest summer days. Ozone and other chemicals emitted from coal-fired plants are literally life-shortening. On ozone action days, hospital admissions for heart attacks, strokes, asthma and other respiratory problems spike, costing millions of dollars and causing untold human suffering.
For months, I've been seriously hoping that NRG might build utility-scale solar arrays and wind farms in Maryland, and I've raised this possibility with Mr. Davis. If NRG started now and retired their oldest coal-fired units once the renewable arrays are online, they would clean up the air, improve our health, lock in long-term profits and establish themselves as a company ready to create the clean energy future. Maybe they could even retrain their current workers for good jobs at the new solar and wind farms.
Clean power, improved health, long-term profits, no job loss? Call me an idealist, but that sounds good to me.
Sara Via, College Park
The writer is a Biology professor at the University of Maryland.