Ameren merchant gen seeks more compliance time in Illinois

Significantly depressed power prices combined with the high-cost of environmental controls and other factors have prompted Ameren Energy Resources Company LLC (AER) to file today a petition with the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) seeking flexibility in meeting certain emissions standards established by the Illinois Multi-Pollutant Standards (MPS).

The AER petition seeks additional time to meet the sulfur dioxide (SO2) limits applicable to its fleet, extending the compliance dates to Dec. 31, 2020. AER has spent more than $1 billion on pollution control equipment that satisfies the existing MPS SO2 limits until 2015; however, those limits are significantly reduced on Jan. 1, 2015. “Current market prices simply do not allow further investment in pollution control equipment at this time,” said Steven R. Sullivan, president and CEO of AER.

In February, AER announced the deceleration of its planned scrubber project at its Newton Energy Center, which would have satisfied the 2015 MPS SO2 standards. “If the requested relief is not granted, we will have to seriously consider mothballing two of our three remaining unscrubbed energy centers (Edwards, Joppa and/or Newton) on Jan. 1, 2015,” said Sullivan. “Unfortunately, without relief, this may become our default MPS compliance strategy.”

Approval of the request by the IPCB will allow additional time for economic recovery and related power price improvements necessary to support scrubber installations and other pollution controls at some of AER’s energy centers. Under AER’s proposed compliance plan, the company expects its SO2 emissions during the period covered by the variance would not increase.   

“AER is fully committed to reducing emissions and will continue to meet or exceed applicable emissions standards. Our energy centers are highly efficient and low-cost and should be a part of the Illinois energy picture for the long term,” said Sullivan. “We remain dedicated to Illinois and to securing a cleaner energy future. We are optimistic that the IPCB will grant the requested relief.”

AER is also working closely with the PJM Regional Transmission Operator (PJM RTO) and the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) to remove barriers preventing downstate Illinois generators from moving power to the northern part of the state where prices are higher. “Solving this singular issue would be a first step in resolving our financial challenges,” said Sullivan. “It is time for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to direct PJM and MISO to solve this problem.”