Footprint argues against appeal of air permit for Salem Harbor project

Footprint Power Salem Harbor Development LP told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board on April 7 that an appeal of a state-issued air permit for its gas-fired power project should be dismissed.

Several individual citizens at literally the last minute on March 3 had appealed a Prevention of Significant Deterioration air permit issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). The appealing parties said they had been working through the Conservation Law Foundation and had to appeal at the last minute after the foundation worked out a sudden settlement of issues with the developer that the citizens didn’t like.

Those petitioners have failed to meet their “heavy burden of demonstrating clear error, an abuse of discretion, or an important policy consideration warranting review of MassDEP’s decision,” said the company’s April 7 rebuttal brief. “Moreover, Petitioners have failed in most instances to meet the applicable threshold requirements for Board review, and their petition should be dismissed for that reason alone.”

Footprint Power Salem Harbor Development proposes to revitalize an old oil- and coal-fired facility on a 65+/- acre waterfront parcel of land in Salem, Mass. Specifically, Footprint proposes to demolish the existing coal- and oil-fired Salem Harbor Power Station, and to construct and operate a state-of-the-art, nominal 630 MW (692 MW with duct firing) natural gas-fired combined-cycle generating facility, with quick start capability.

The project will use General Electric (GE) Model 107F Series 5 combustion turbines, steam turbine generators, heat recovery steam generators, and air-cooled condensers as well as a variety of pollution control equipment.

Moreover, as the result of the recent agreement with the Conservation Law Foundation that the petitioners didn’t like, Footprint has agreed to unprecedented reductions of CO2 emissions well beyond what is currently required by existing regulations.

The proposed facility will ensure a reliable supply of electricity to the New England grid as it provides critically needed new capacity in the Northeast Massachusetts (NEMA)/Boston load zone. “Indeed, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, ISO-New England, Inc. (‘ISO-New England’) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have all determined that the Facility is required to ensure that there is adequate electricity in the NEMA/Boston zone,” the company added.

In essence, the petitioners argue that MassDEP’s best available control technology (BACT) analysis was flawed because MassDEP did not select lower emissions limits that have been set for certain other facilities, the company noted. “Quite simply, the Petitioners are wrong,” it added. The board has long recognized that permit writers must retain discretion to set BACT levels that do not necessarily reflect the highest possible control efficiencies but, rather, will allow permittees to achieve compliance on a consistent basis, Footprint said.

It is clear that MassDEP reviewed lower emissions limits at other facilities, that MassDEP exercised its considered judgment in determining that the proposed emissions limits were appropriate for the Salem Harbor facility, and that MassDEP’s reasoning in selecting emissions limits for the facility are adequately set forth in the record, Footprint wrote.

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.