WASHINGTON – American Municipal Power (AMP), an Ohio non-profit utility, will permanently retire its Richard H. Gorsuch Station coal-fired power plant near Marietta under a settlement to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. As part of the settlement, AMP will also spend $15 million on an environmental mitigation project and pay a civil penalty of $850,000.
"The Justice Department is committed to strong enforcement of our nation's environmental laws in order to protect human health and the environment," said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This settlement will remove harmful emissions from this coal-fired power plant by tens of thousands of tons each year and will significantly benefit air quality. We are also pleased that AMP has shown creative leadership to implement a program that encourages efficient energy use."
"Today’s settlement substantially reduces harmful air pollution from coal-fired power plants, and requires a large scale energy efficiency program within the AMP community," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "These pollutants can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. Coal-fired power plants of all sizes are large sources of air emissions, and EPA is committed to making sure that they all comply with the law. "
The agreement resolves violations of the Clean Air Act’s new source review requirements at the company’s Gorsuch Station, which has a sulfur dioxide emission rate in the highest three percent of coal-fired utility sources in the country.
Under the settlement, AMP will permanently retire the Gorsuch Station by Dec. 31, 2012, and implement interim sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emission limits until that date. AMP made a business decision that shutting down the plant and providing for replacement energy was its preferred option for bringing the plant into compliance. AMP will also enhance pollution controls to reduce particulate matter emissions. The settlement requires AMP to spend $15 million on an energy efficiency project to benefit the environment and mitigate the adverse effects of the alleged violations. The project will provide energy efficiency services in lighting, refrigerator replacement and removal, and installation of building heating and cooling systems to all of the municipalities and their customers served by the Gorsuch Station. The energy efficiency services are designed to achieve a minimum reduction of 70,000 megawatt hours, equivalent to the electricity use of more than 6,000 homes for one year.
The settlement is part of the EPA’s national enforcement initiative to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, two key pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and the environment. These pollutants are converted in the air to fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are also significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze. In addition, air pollution from power plants can drift significant distances downwind, thereby effecting not only local communities, but also communities in a much broader area.
Today’s settlement will also further EPA’s continuing commitment to reducing nitrogen oxide pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in North America. The Gorsuch plant is located in the bay airshed, and AMP's commitment to retire the plant will eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions in that area by approximately 3,160 tons per year.
AMP, based in Columbus, Ohio, is a nonprofit organization that provides generation, transmission, and distribution of wholesale electric power to municipal electric systems. AMP is made up of 129 member municipal communities in five states. This settlement applies to the Gorsuch Station, which consists of four 53 megawatt boilers.
The proposed settlement was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department website at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.