MBPP and Wyoming reach tentative settlement with EPA on regional haze

A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by the Missouri Basin Power Project (MBPP) and the State of Wyoming against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) from MBPP’s Laramie River Station in Wheatland, Wyo.

MBPP is owned by six regional consumer-owned electric utilities including the Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (WMMPA), which is represented in the project by Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The lawsuit was initiated after the EPA approved the majority of Wyoming’s Regional Haze Plan, but rejected the portion related to limiting NOX, which contributes to regional haze. The state had approved the NOX emissions limits achieved by the use of over-fire air and low-NOX burners, which had been installed at the Laramie River Station, and the addition of Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) on all three units. EPA said SNCRs were not sufficient and that Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) would be required on all three of the plant’s units.

Both SCR and SNCR technologies are used to capture NOX emissions which, in turn, reduces regional haze. SCR differs from SNCR in that it incorporates a catalyst to increase the reaction between NOX emissions and the liquid reductant, typically urea or ammonia, and it significantly increases capital and operating costs. According to EPA modeling, the increased reduction in regional haze gained by using SCR, rather than SNCR, technology is only a fraction of one deciview – indistinguishable to the human eye.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead joined MBPP in challenging that decision and fought to keep the Laramie River Station fully operational. Gov. Mead signed the proposed settlement Dec. 22 and it was sent to the EPA, which forwarded it to the office of the Federal Register. If the EPA confirms the proposal after a 30-day public notice and comment period, Wyoming must revise its State Implementation Plan and the EPA must revise its Federal Implementation Plan before the settlement becomes final.

Among its provisions, the settlement agreement calls for the installation of SCR equipment on Unit 1 of the plant by May 2019 and SNCR equipment on Units 2 and 3 by December 2018. The WMMPA/MRES share of the cost of the installed equipment will be approximately $65 million, instead of nearly $125 million in the original EPA order.

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MBPP and Wyoming reach tentative settlement with EPA on regional haze (CONTINUED)

 

 

Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck, N.D., the project manager for MBPP and the operator of the coal-fired Laramie River Station, negotiated the proposed settlement on behalf of MBPP. In addition to WMMPA/MRES, other MBPP participants are Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Denver; Lincoln Electric System, Lincoln, Neb.; Heartland Consumers Power District, Madison, S.D.; and Wyoming Municipal Power Agency, Lusk, Wyo.

“This settlement will have the dual outcome of improving the environment and of making sure that our principal power generating resource, the Laramie River Station, can continue to operate at full strength for many years to come,” said MRES CEO Tom Heller. It also means that the 330 Laramie River Station employees will be able to continue their work. In addition, more than 200 jobs will be created during the plant upgrade.

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For more information, contact Member Services and Communications Director Joni Livingston
at Missouri River Energy Services, phone: 605-261-3637 or email: joni.livingston@mrenergy.com.