EPA issues final regional haze FIP decision for Hawaii

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is issuing a final Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to address regional haze in Hawaii that caps emissions at oil-fired units of Hawaii Electric Light Co. (HELCO).

The FIP addresses the requirements of the Clean Air Act and EPA’s rules concerning reasonable progress towards the national goal of preventing any future and remedying any existing man-made impairment of visibility in mandatory Class I areas in Hawaii, EPA said in a notice to be published in the Oct. 9 Federal Register. The FIP establishes an emissions cap of 3,550 tons of SO2 per year from three oil-fired plants on the Island of Hawaii beginning in 2018. HELCO can minimize impacts on ratepayers by meeting the cap through the increased use of renewable energy and energy conservation, the agency said. The FIP is effective as of Nov. 8.

“EPA finds that this control measure, in conjunction with other emissions control requirements that are already in place, will ensure that reasonable progress is made during this first planning period toward the national goal of no man-made visibility impairment by 2064 at Hawaii’s two Class I areas,” EPA wrote.

EPA said it worked closely with the state of Hawaii in the development of the FIP and that the state has agreed to incorporate the control requirements into the relevant permits. The state has also indicated that it intends to take full responsibility for the development of future Regional Haze plans.

In its previous Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, EPA proposed to find that there was only one source in Hawaii that was subject to Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) requirements, the Kanoelehua Hill Generating Station (Hill) on the island of Hawaii (the Big Island). It also proposed to find that the current level of pollution control at Hill was consistent with BART and no additional controls would be required to meet the BART requirement. In addition, the EPA proposed to find that enough emissions reductions were expected on Maui to make reasonable progress during the first implementation running to 2018. It also proposed to find that additional SO2 reductions were required on the Big Island to ensure reasonable progress.

EPA proposed that those reductions should be derived from controlling emissions on three oil-fired power plants on the Big Island: Hill, Puna and Shipman. The proposed control measure would cap the emissions of these three plants at 3,550 tons of SO2 per year beginning in 2018 (with a demonstration of compliance required by the end of 2018). If HELCO chooses to meet the cap by switching to cleaner fuel, then the EPA estimated that the costs will be no more than about $7.9m/year. This cap represents a reduction of 1,400 tons per year of SO2 from the total projected 2018 annual emissions from these facilities.

In the notice, EPA answered several critical comments on the plan from several parties, including HELCO and environmental groups like Earthjustice. In those comments, EPA defended its decisions in several areas, including a decision to include an SO2-spewing active volcano in a baseline visibility study.

Hawaiian Electric Industries (NYSE: HE) supplies power to 95% of Hawaii’s population through its electric utilities, Hawaiian Electric, Hawaii Electric Light and Maui Electric.

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.