EPA reworks Huntington-Ashland particulate nonattainment plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to approve a redesignation request and State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) for the West Virginia portion of the Huntington-Ashland, WVKY-OH-fine particulate matter (PM2.5) nonattainment area.

This area is to be redesignated as attainment for the 1997 annual PM2.5 national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS). The Huntington-Ashland Area is comprised of Cabell and Wayne counties and a portion of Mason County in West Virginia; Boyd County and a portion of Lawrence County in Kentucky; and Lawrence and Scioto counties and portions of Adams and Gallia counties in Ohio. This area is home to several coal-fired power plants spread along the Ohio River.

In this rulemaking action, EPA is proposing to approve the PM2.5 redesignation request for the West Virginia portion of the area. EPA is also proposing to approve the maintenance plan SIP revision that the state submitted in conjunction with its redesignation request. The maintenance plan provides for continued attainment of the 1997 annual PM2.5 NAAQS for 10 years after redesignation of the West Virginia portion of the area.

The maintenance plan includes an insignificance determination for the onroad motor vehicle contribution of PM2.5, NOx and SO2 for the West Virginia portion of the area for purposes of transportation conformity. EPA is proposing to find that West Virginia’s insignificance determination for transportation conformity is adequate. EPA is also proposing to find that the area continues to attain the standard. EPA is taking separate action to propose redesignation of the Kentucky and Ohio portions of the Huntington-Ashland Area. It is taking written comments on the West Virginia approval until Dec. 6.

Coal plants already cutting emissions due to federal decrees

EPA noted that electricity generating units (EGUs) in this area are subject to federal consent decrees that have or are reducing emissions of NOX and SO2 in the area.

There are two American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) EGUs in the part of Mason County included in this area. These are the coal-fired Mountaineer and Philip Sporn plants. As part of a federally-enforceable consent decree, the single, 1,300-MW Mountaineer unit was required, starting in January 2008, to operate its selective catalytic reduction (SCR) continuously to control NOX emissions, and to operate continuously its new Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) to reduce SO2 emissions starting in December 2007.

Under the consent decree, Philip Sporn installed and began operation of selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) to control NOX emissions on Units 3 and 4 starting in January 2009 and is required to retire, retrofit, or repower Unit 5 by Dec. 31, 2013. Notable is that Sporn Unit 5 was retired earlier this year, ahead of schedule. Sporn Units 1-4 are to be retired within the next few years.

Several EGUs in Gallia and Adams counties in Ohio have installed controls as a result of federally enforceable consent decrees. Two units at AEP’s coal-fired General J. M. Gavin plant in Gallia County, Ohio, were required to continuously operate SNCR starting in December 2009, and five units at the coal-fired Kyger Creek plant in Gallia County have installed and continuously operated SNCRs since January 2009. Additionally, the Kyger Creek owners, which include AEP, plan to install and operate FGDs in 2012.

Also, four units at Dayton Power and Light’s J.M. Stuart plant in Adams County, Ohio, have been operating year-round SNCR since 2009, and one unit at AEP’s Big Sandy coal plant in Lawrence County, Ky., was required by consent decree to install and continuously operate SCR starting in January 2009 and an FGD starting in December 2015.

Notable is that AEP’s Kentucky Power subsidiary is mulling right now whether to install this FGD on the 800-MW Big Sandy Unit 2, or to retire this unit. It does pretty definitely plan to retire the older, smaller Big Sandy Unit 1 (278 MW) in 2015. This federal consent decree is what is forcing AEP’s hand on shutting the plant by a fixed deadline, or keeping at least part of it open with FGD in place.

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.