Basin: EPA readies expensive NOx mandate at Laramie River

Basin Electric Power Cooperative said May 31 that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has re-proposed a federal implementation plan (FIP) that would require expensive new emission control technology at the coal-fired Laramie River plant in Wyoming.

The EPA’s re-proposed FIP partially approves and partially disapproves Wyoming’s state implementation plan (SIP) for regional haze, Basin noted. Approval of the re-proposed FIP would cost Basin Electric hundreds of millions of dollars in emission control upgrades to Laramie River, which Basin Electric owns with five other participants of the Missouri Basin Power Project (MBPP). Basin Electric is the plant’s operator.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality previously submitted its SIP to the EPA addressing regional haze, which focuses on NOx, SO2 and particulate matter (PM) emissions. In June 2012, the EPA published its first proposed technology and emissions requirements for several of Wyoming’s coal-fired power plants, including Laramie River.

In those requirements, the EPA approved Wyoming’s SO2 trading program, which would require no SO2 emission technology changes at Laramie River, Basin said. All three units already have SO2 scrubbers. The EPA, however, disapproved the state’s NOx-control plans and proposed a FIP that would have required selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) technology to be installed at Laramie River.

If the EPA’s FIP is approved as re-proposed on May 23, the three units at Laramie River would now need to add more expensive selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology to reach full compliance. The exact additional cost of installing SCR technology is not known at this time, though it is anticipated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than the SNCR technology, Basin pointed out.

”Basin Electric believes that protecting visibility in our national parks and wilderness areas is an important goal,” the generation and transmission cooperative said. “However, we do not believe that the measures that EPA proposes for Basin Electric’s Laramie River Station are warranted, or consistent with state and federal air quality laws.”

Laramie River has three coal-based units: Unit 1 at 570 MW (net); Unit 2 at 570 NW (net); and Unit 3 at 570 MW (net). Unit 1 is connected to the Eastern Interconnection, while Unit 2 and Unit 3 are connected to the Western Interconnection. These grids, which divide the U.S. into two sections, were developed independently and must be served separately, the Basin Electric website noted.

A group of six utilities, the Missouri Basin Power Project participants, own the plant and adjacent facilities. Basin Electric is a 42.27% owner of the project. The other five MBPP participants are: Heartland Consumers Power District, Lincoln Electric System, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Assn., Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Wyoming Municipal Power Agency.

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.