Arkansas PSC rejects dragging Clean Power Plan into Flint Creek air project review

The Arkansas Public Service Commission on Jan. 2 rejected a request from the Sierra Club to potentially re-open the commission’s prior decision to approve new air emissions controls for the Flint Creek coal plant in light of the June 2014 proposed Clean Power Plan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

On Nov. 12, the Sierra Club asked that an Independent Monitor be ordered to evaluate the Clean Power Plan and its effects on the viability of Flint Creek, which is getting new emissions controls installed to reduce conventional pollutants, not CO2, which is what the Clean Power Plan covers for existing power plants in the U.S. On Nov. 21, plant co-owners Southwestern Electric Power Co. and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. objected to the motion.

Sierra noted that, while the IM that is overseeing the project has submitted reports covering the period of February-October 2014, these reports do not touch on the Clean Power Plan, which was proposed by EPA in June 2014 and isn’t due to be final until this coming summer – at which point it will certainly be appealed into federal court by numerous parties.

“Sierra states that EPA’s carbon emissions standards will increase costs for the Flint Creek plant and will likely affect its continued economic viability,” said the PSC rejection order. “Sierra requests that the Commission order the IM to evaluate the effect of the proposed carbon standards on the current Flint Creek environmental controls project in its next report. According to Sierra, the evaluation should include an estimate of the cost of heat rate improvements at Flint Creek, whether the equipment currently being installed will be compatible with heat rate improvements, and the risk of the proposed regulations creating stranded costs at Flint Creek. Sierra states that the evaluation would be timely because SWEPCO has only recently begun committing substantial resources to the project, leaving time for prudent analysis.”

The Flint Creek project involves the installation of a Dry Flue Gas Desulfurization system with an integrated bag house; low NOx burners and overfire air; and an activated carbon injection system. SWEPCO said this project is not in its opening stages, instead being over 50% complete, and the the Clean Power Plan is only a “speculative” possibility right now.

Said the Jan. 2 order: “The Project has been approved by the Commission for the purpose of complying with the existing, final EPA MATS rule. EPA’s proposed carbon emissions regulations do not change the existing MATS requirements. Also, the proposed carbon emissions regulations are not final and thus are not ‘changes in state or federal rules or regulations affecting the project.’ Accordingly, the Motion is denied.” 

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.