O&M, Retrofits & Upgrades, Wind

EPA reviews coal plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing a Prevention of Significant Deterioration air permit granted December 12 to build the $2.2 billion, 895 MW Holcomb coal-fired expansion project in Kansas.

Karl Brooks, EPA administrator for Region 7, said his agency will begin reviewing the final permit and the responses to comments. Region 7 covers Kansas and three other Midwestern states. Brooks said EPA’s review will assess whether all requirements of the Clean Air Act and State Implementation Plan have been met and that the environment and public health will be protected.

Approval of the permit comes before EPA’s tailoring rule takes effect Jan. 2. That rule is designed to use the Clean Air Act to control emissions from large emitters that are new or undergo modifications. Issuing the permit before that deadline means the plant does not fall under the new rule.

The plant has been the subject of dispute for more than four years. Sunflower was first denied a permit to build three, 700 MW units in 2007. The former head of the state Department of Health and Environment rejected the permit request and former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius four times vetoed legislation that approved the project’s construction.

In 2009, Sunflower resumed the permitting process for the current 895 MW project as long as the company agreed to build wind turbines and more pollution controls and make a greater investment in energy efficiency.

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