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PPL Montana agrees to pollution controls if coal-fired plant is not closed

PPL Montana has agreed to install $10 million in new pollutions control at a 154 MW coal-fired power plant in Billings if the company changes its current plan to close the facility in less than two years, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The controls would be installed at the J.E. Corette power plant as part of a settlement in which the company has also agreed to a $250,000 penalty for past pollutions, the Associated Press reported. The new pollution controls would reduce sulfur dioxide pollution by 60 percent from its current levels.

PPL stated last year it would shutter the plant by April 2015 because of environmental regulations and competition from other power sources that has made coal more expensive to burn, according to the report. If the company chooses to keep the plant open, the new equipment would need to be in place by April 2015.

A PPL spokesman told the Associated Press that the company still plans to close the plant, but it could reopen at a later date. The spokesman could not confirm the $10 million cost figure for the pollution controls, but said $38 million in equipment is needed to remove other pollutants to meet federal regulations.

The agreement, which was approved last week by Montana District Judge Susan Watters, also requires the company to take steps to reduce pollution and improve visibility for a 2,100 MW coal-fired plant located in Colstrip, according to the Associated Press. The plant in Colstrip, which is the second-largest coal-fired plant west of the Mississippi River, is co-owned by five companies and operated by PPL. The agreement does not require any new equipment to be installed to help with visibility, but the company agreed to set up a task force to identify ways to make improvements.

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