Justice, WE Energies alter settlement over coal emissions

The U.S. Department of Justice plans to take comment for 30 days from July 14 on an amended consent decree with Wisconsin Electric Power that covers the coal-to-gas conversion of the Valley power plant in Milwaukee.

On July 8, the Department of Justice lodged a proposed Third Amended Consent Decree with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in the lawsuit entitled United States and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Plaintiffs, and Clean Wisconsin, Sierra Club, and Citizens’ Utility Board, Intervenors, v. Wisconsin Electric Power Company.

Justice said in a notice to be published in the July 14 Federal Register that the proposed modifications to the decree are designed: to accommodate the voluntary decision by Wisconsin Electric Power d/b/a WE Energies to convert all four coal-fired boilers at the Valley Generating Station from coal to natural gas; and to simplify the process of terminating the Third Amended Decree after Dec. 31, 2015.

“The coal-to-natural-gas conversion will provide significant emission reductions at the Valley Station, and the termination-related changes will provide greater finality for the Defendant while also ensuring that the Decree’s provisions remain enforceable in the future through federally enforceable state operating permits,” Justice said.

The original decree included various terms applicable to five coal-fired power plants owned and operated by WE Energies, including the Valley Station. WE has been in compliance with the decree at all five plants since its lodging in 2004, and the decree is now nearing the end of its term.

Because the decree was written to apply to a coal-fired Valley Station, various modifications are needed in order to accommodate the coal-to-gas conversion, which was approved earlier this year by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The plant’s electric capacity is expected to remain at around 280 MW after the conversion. Located along the Menomonee River in Milwaukee, this is a cogeneration facility that generates electricity for the grid and produces steam for nearly 450 customers in downtown Milwaukee.

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.