The settlement addresses claims that Minnesota Power violated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s New Source Review provisions under the Clean Air Act, by unlawfully constructing modifications at its plants without obtaining the necessary permits and installing and operating the best available air pollution control technology.
The company expects to spend more than $500 million to implement the required measures from the three sites which include nine operating units and a biomass-and-coal-fired cogeneration plant. Minnesota Power will also have to retire, refuel, repower, or reroute emissions at five other units and meet emission rates and install additional control technologies at remaining units.
“Today’s settlement will require system-wide controls to reduce harmful air pollution and will benefit Minnesota residents today and for years to come,” said Sam Hirsch, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
By making the mandated upgrades, the EPA estimates that the emission control technology will offset more than 13,350 tons of emissions annually.
The settlement also requires that the company pay a civil penalty of $1.4 million to resolve Clean Air Act violations. Any money remaining will go to one of the following projects: land donation and restoration, electric vehicle charging stations, clean diesel projects, or installation of renewable energy.
The settlement was lodged with the U.S. District Court for Minnesota and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
The power plants are located in Cohasset, Hoyt Lakes, and Schroeder, Minnesota.
Subscribe to Power Engineering magazine