The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and PPL Montana LLC have reached an agreement that will reduce SO2 emissions if the coal-fired Corette plant stays in operation over the long term.
“This meaningful agreement will ensure cleaner air in Billings for years to come,” said DEQ Director Tracy Stone-Manning in a June 10 statement.
The deal would cut SO2 emissions by 60% and settle existing air quality permit violations. Under the agreement, entered as a consent decree in Yellowstone County District Court, PPL Montana has agreed to install SO2 controls at Corette by April 2015. Not only will this reduce Montana’s exposure to air pollutants, it is an important step towards assuring the state can implement federal air quality requirements in an efficient and cost-effective manner in the Billings region.
The agreement also calls for PPL Montana to pay a $250,000 penalty, implement an Opacity Task Force, and take other corrective actions to settle violations for operating under expired permits and exceeding opacity limits at the Corette and Colstrip coal plants.
Said the PPL Montana website about this plant: “Located along the Yellowstone River on the outskirts of Billings, Mont., the J.E. Corette plant has a generating capacity of 153 megawatts. The one-unit, coal-fired plant began commercial operation in 1968. It employs about 40 people and is owned and operated by PPL Montana LLC, a subsidiary of PPL Generation LLC. Corette uses low-sulfur coal and a low-nitrogen oxides burner system. The plant meets Phase Two sulfur dioxide emissions standards of the Clean Air Act and Environmental Protection Agency standards for nitrogen oxides emissions. It also is compliant with Montana emissions requirements for the Billings area, which are more stringent than those of the Clean Air Act.”
Said the May 3 Form 10-Q filing of parent PPL (NYSE: PPL) about compliance in Montana with the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS): “With respect to PPL Energy Supply’s Pennsylvania plants, PPL Energy Supply believes that certain coal-fired plants may require installation of chemical additive systems, the capital cost of which is not expected to be significant. PPL Energy Supply continues to analyze the potential impact on operating cost. With respect to PPL Energy Supply’s Montana plants, modifications to the current air pollution controls installed on Colstrip may be required, the cost of which is not expected to be significant. For the Corette plant, PPL Energy Supply announced in September 2012 its intention, beginning in April 2015, to place the plant in long-term reserve status, suspending the plant’s operation, due to expected market conditions and the costs to comply with the MATS requirements.”