EPA to hold hearings this summer on Navajo plant haze plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a notice to be published in the June 19 Federal Register that it will hold local public hearings near the Navajo Generating Station to take input on a regional haze plan for the coal-fired plant.

On Feb. 5, EPA proposed a Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) determination for emissions of NOX from the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), located on the Navajo Nation land. EPA provided a three-month period for public comments, to close on May 6. The Navajo Nation, Gila River Indian Community, and other affected stakeholders requested a 90-day extension of the comment period to allow time for stakeholders to develop an alternative to EPA’s proposed BART determination that achieves greater reasonable progress.

On March 19, EPA extended the close of the public comment period to Aug. 5. Now EPA plans to hold five public hearings to accept written and oral comments on the proposed BART determination for NGS. EPA will announce dates and locations for the public hearings at a later time in the Federal Register. EPA intends to hold public hearings at one location each on the Navajo Reservation, on the Hopi Reservation, and in Page, Phoenix, and Tucson, Ariz.

EPA on Feb. 5 proposed a source-specific federal implementation plan (FIP) for the plant. NGS is central to the economies of the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe and supplies power to Arizona, Nevada and California. Electricity produced by NGS is also used to power the Central Arizona Project, which supplies surface water to three counties and numerous Indian tribes in Arizona. NGS is projected to continue operating at least until 2044, the agency said.

EPA is proposing to require NGS to achieve a nearly 80% reduction of its current overall NOx emission rate. “Our analysis indicates that installation of controls to achieve this reduction would result in significant visibility improvement that is well-balanced with the cost of those controls,” EPA said in its Feb. 5 plan announcement. “For a number of reasons, including the importance of NGS to numerous Indian tribes located in Arizona and the federal government’s reliance on NGS to meet the requirements of water settlements with several tribes, EPA is proposing an alternative to BART that would provide flexibility to NGS in the schedule for the installation of new control equipment.”

NGS is a coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation, just east of Page, Ariz., approximately 135 miles north of Flagstaff, Ariz. The three 750-MW units at NGS were constructed in the 1974-1976 period. It gets coal from the Kayenta mine in Arizona of Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), which is a mine that would shut without this business. NGS is co-owned by six entities including the  Salt River Project (SRP), which also acts as the facility operator.

EPA is proposing to determine a plantwide emission limit of 0.055 lb/MMBtu as BART for NGS, based on a rolling average of 30 boiler operating days, achievable with the installation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR), the most costly NOx control technology. Under the Clean Air Act, compliance with emission limits determined as BART must be “as expeditious as practicable but in no event later than five years” after the effective date of the final BART determination. That date would be 2018, if the rule is finalized in 2013, or 2019 if, due to a need for extended public discussion or a supplemental proposal, the rule is finalized in 2014.

In the Feb. 5 proposal, EPA put out a BART alternative (Alternative 1) for NGS that would require the plant to meet a NOx limit of 0.055 lb/MMBtu on one unit per year in 2021, 2022, and 2023. “We also describe and solicit comment on a framework for extending the compliance schedule beyond 2023, and will issue a supplemental proposal if we receive comments supporting a later compliance date,” the agency said at the time.

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.