After reaching an agreement with the Sierra Club in mid-December, LS Power has canceled its 1,200-MW Longleaf coal project in Washington County, Ga., and delayed by at least five years development of its 665-MW Plum Point 2 coal project near Osceola, Ark.

The far-reaching settlement is tied to permit-related litigation on LS Power's 900-MW Sandy Creek coal plant in Riesel, Texas. That plant is nearly complete but its commercial start-up — once planned for early 2012 — has been delayed to early 2013 because of "issues with the boiler," said Mike Vogt, project manager at LS Power. The plant was built by Sandy Creek Power Partners, L.P., a consortium of Zachry Construction Corp., Overland Contracting Inc. and Gilbert Industrial Corp.

In the settlement LS Power agreed to lower emission limits, Vogt said. He would not provide details of the emission limits, but Tom Smith, director of the Texas office of Public Citizen and a Sandy Creek critic, said the settlement would reduce allowable mercury emissions by 50% and allowable particulate emissions by 25%.

The settlement also calls for LS Power to contribute $400,000 toward the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on a school near the Sandy Creek plant.

"We made lemonade out of lemons," said Jennifer Powis, senior regional representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. She added that the Longleaf project, which was first proposed in 2001, represents the 160th coal project to be cancelled since the Beyond Coal effort started in 2005. "It's a changed landscape now. Utilities know that coal is not a good bet."

LS Power's Vogt said that, with Sandy Creek nearing completion, Longleaf cancelled and Plum Point 2 on hold for several years, the developer is now focused ondeveloping natural gas-fired and solar projects.