Group wants extra time to appeal air permit for Puerto Rico project

Energy Answers Arecibo LLC told the U.S. Environmental Appeals Board on July 8 that critics of its 77-MW biomass-fired power project in Puerto Rico should not get extra time to appeal the project’s air permit.

On May 9, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 proposed to approve, subject to public comment, a Prevention Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit that would authorize construction and operation of a resource recovery facility known as the Arecibo Puerto Rico Renewable Energy Project.

The Coalition of Organizations Against Incinerators on July 2 asked the board for an extension of time to file a petition for review of the final PSD permit that was issued to Energy Answers on June 11. The Coalition is requesting that it be allowed until 60 days after the date of publication of a Spanish translation of the PSD permit to file its petition with the board for review.

The Coalition’s request for a prolonged extension is contrary to the board’s declaration that NSR permits are time sensitive because new source construction cannot begin prior to receiving a final permit, said Energy Answers in its July 8 filing.

The Coalition’s premise that a translation of the PSD permit is necessary to enable the non-English speaking population of Puerto Rico to participate and effectively comment on the Energy Answers project is erroneous, the company argued.

Said the Coalition’s July 2 request: “The final permit was issued in English, but not translated into Spanish. EPA has issued other documents in this matter in both English and Spanish. For example, the Response to Public Comments and Press Release announcing the final permit are available in both languages. At this critical stage, translating the final permit into Spanish would be consistent with other EPA actions. Although extending the appeal deadline is infrequent, the EAB has done this under appropriate circumstances. It granted an extension for filing a petition for review of a permit, due to a hurricane that struck Puerto Rico several days after EPA Region II issued a permit.”

This project would be a new resource recovery facility at the former site of the Global Fibers Paper Mill in Barrio Cambalache, Arecibo, Puerto Rico. It involves the construction and installation of: two 1,050 tons per day (each) refuse-derived fuel municipal waste combustors, a 77-MW steam turbine electrical-generator, and ancillary equipment.

The federal Rural Utilities Service (RUS) said in April that it intends to prepare a Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (SFEIS) in connection with this project. Energy Answers Arecibo may request a loan guarantee from RUS. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority will purchase power generated from the facility.

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.