EPA rejects Utah’s light treatment of PacifiCorp coal emissions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said May 16 that it is proposing to only partially approve a May 2011 State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision from the state of Utah that addresses regional haze.

EPA said in a May 16 Federal Register notice that it is proposing to approve specific sections of a SIP revision submitted in September 2008 by the state to address regional haze. These SIP revisions were submitted to address the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and EPA rules that require states to prevent any future and remedy any existing man-made impairment of visibility in mandatory Class I areas. States are required to assure reasonable progress toward the goal of achieving natural visibility conditions in Class I areas. EPA will take comment on these actions until July 16.

EPA is proposing to approve all sections of the May 2011 SIP submittal, with the exception of the requirements pertaining to NOX and particulate matter (PM) best available retrofit technology (BART). EPA is proposing to disapprove the State’s NOX and PM BART determinations and limits for the following four subject-to-BART electricity generating units (EGUs) controlled by PacifiCorp: Hunter Units 1-2 and Huntington Units 1-2. These are all coal units. EPA is proposing to disapprove these BART determinations because they do not comply with regulations. EPA is also proposing to disapprove the state’s SIP because it does not contain the provisions necessary to make BART limits practically enforceable.

The state determined that Hunter Units 1-2 and Huntington Units 1-2 were BART-eligible and subject-to-BART. All four units are tangentially-fired EGUs each with a net capacity of 430 MW, permitted to burn bituminous coal. EPA is proposing that the state has correctly determined the BART-eligible and subject-to-BART units in the state.

EPA says Utah didn’t do enough BART analysis

Regarding BART for PM and NOX, neither PacifiCorp nor the state performed a BART analysis taking into account the statutory factors that states are required to consider in determining what retrofit controls are BART for these four units, said EPA. The state determined that it could rely on the presumptive limits to determine what NOX BART is for these sources. PacifiCorp proposed and the state determined, without any analysis, that the NOX BART limit for all the subject-to-BART units was 0.26 lb/MMBtu (30-day rolling average), which is the current operating permit limit and which the state assumes can be achieved by the installation and operation of low-NOX burners (LNBs) and separated overfire air (SOFA). The state reasoned that since this limit is slightly lower than the presumptive limit, which is 0.28 lb/MMBtu (30-day rolling average), it constituted NOX BART for these sources.

There are no presumptive limits established for PM. PacifiCorp proposed and the state agreed, without any analysis, that the PM BART limits for all subject-to-BART units was the current operating permit limit of 0.05 lb/MMBtu (30-day rolling average), which the state assumes can be achieved by the installation and operation of fabric filter baghouses.

Because the PacifiCorp units have a 430 MW generating capacity, which is below a certain size under the rules, the state is not required to follow the BART Guidelines in making determinations for the units. However, neither the state nor PacifiCorp has completed a BART analysis that considers the statutory factors that say determination of BART must be based on an analysis of the best system of continuous emission control technology available and associated emission reductions achievable for each BART-eligible source that is subject-to-BART within the state, EPA wrote.

Also, the state’s regional haze SIP does not contain the elements necessary to make proposed emission limits practically enforceable, EPA added. The CAA requires that SIPs, including the regional haze SIP, contain elements sufficient to ensure emission limits are enforceable. Utah suggests that including averaging times, recordkeeping, monitoring, and specific schedules for compliance in the source’s operating permits, and not as part of the SIP, is enough to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements.

“It is not sufficient to include these elements in a permit or agreement that is not made part of the SIP,” the agency said. “EPA does not consider operating permit conditions adequate to meet this enforceability requirement, as permit conditions may be modified without going through the SIP approval process.” EPA said it sent letters to the state warning it about these problems.

PacifiCorp said about this situation in its Feb. 27 annual Form 10-K report: “Utah submitted its most recent regional haze SIP amendments in 2011 and suggested that the emissions reduction projects planned by PacifiCorp are sufficient to meet its initial emissions reduction requirements. In September 2011, PacifiCorp received a Section 114 request for information from the EPA Region VIII requiring PacifiCorp to submit a five-factor best available retrofit technology analysis for PacifiCorp’s Hunter Units 1 and 2 and the Huntington generating facility in Utah within 30 days based on the EPA’s assertion that Utah failed to submit such an analysis. PacifiCorp responded to the request in November 2011 and indicated it would work with the Utah Division of Air Quality to complete the requested analysis which, based on a schedule proposed by Utah to the EPA, will be part of a process to conclude with a submittal to the EPA in February 2013.”

Notable is that PacifiCorp has recently said that it will likely shut its third coal plant in Utah, the 172-MW Carbon facility, in early 2015 due to EPA’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.