EPA agrees to hold Four Corners haze decision until the end of the year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking final action to extend the notification date in the federal implementation plan (FIP) for the Four Corners coal-fired plant in New Mexico from July 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2013.

In August 2012, EPA promulgated a FIP to implement the Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) requirement of the Regional Haze Rule for the Four Corners Power Plant (FCPP), which is located on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation.

Included in the FIP was a requirement that by July 1, 2013, Arizona Public Service (APS), co-owner and operator of the FCPP, must notify EPA of its selected BART compliance strategy. On June 19, 2013, APS requested that EPA extend the notification date from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013, due to new uncertainties related to the potential deregulation of the retail electricity market in Arizona that complicate its decision for selecting a BART compliance option. The Arizona Corporation Commission has opened up a proceeding to look at deregulation issues in the state.

In response to this request, on July 11, 2013, EPA proposed to extend the notification date, from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013. EPA said in a notice to be published in the Oct. 2 Federal Register that it did not receive any comments during the 30-day public comment period for the proposed action. EPA received one comment that was emailed to EPA on Aug. 13, one day after the close of the comment period.

So, EPA is taking final action to extend the notification date in the FIP from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013.

Four Corners consists of five coal-fired units with a total capacity of 2,060 MW. Units 1, 2, and 3 at FCPP are owned entirely by APS, which serves as the facility operator, and are each rated at 170 MW (Units 1 and 2) and 220 MW (Unit 3). Units 4 and 5 are each rated to a capacity of 750 MW, and are co-owned by six entities: Southern California Edison (48%), APS (15%), Public Service Co. of New Mexico (13%), Salt River Project (10%), El Paso Electric (7%) and Tucson Electric Power (7%).

In August 2012, EPA promulgated a FIP that established limits for emissions of NOX from Four Corners under the BART provision of the Regional Haze Rule. The final FIP required the owners of FCPP to implement one of two strategies for BART compliance: meet a facility-wide BART emission limit for NOX of 0.11 lb/MMBtu of heat input by October 2017; or retirement of Units 1, 2, and 3 by Jan. 1, 2014, and compliance with a BART emission limit for NOX of 0.098 lb/MMBtu on Units 4 and 5 by July 1, 2018.

The second BART compliance strategy, involving retirement of Units 1, 2, and 3, was based on a broader plan put forth by APS that also called for APS to purchase Southern California Edison’s 48% ownership in Units 4 and 5 at FCPP.

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.