Sierra Club threatens to sue Michigan municipal over coal emissions

Sierra Club officials in Michigan on March 4 made public a June 2014 letter and notice of intent to sue the Lansing Board of Water & Light (LBWL) for more than 3,500 alleged self-reported violations of the federal Clean Air Act at the utility’s Erickson and Eckert coal plants.

LBWL has not acted to correct these alleged violations for nearly a year since receiving the Sierra Club’s notice, posing a serious threat to the community’s health, the club said in a March 4 statement. The Clean Air Act provides for civil penalties of up to $37,500 per violation.

“The people of Lansing own this utility, and they deserve to know how it’s operating,” said Anne Woiwode, conservation director for the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter. “Lansing Board of Water & Light officials have known about these violations for years, but have failed to address them. It’s time to face this pollution problem and create a responsible plan to transition away from these polluting, aging coal plants.”

The Erickson Station was completed in 1973 and contains a single generator capable of producing 159 MW. Eckert Power Station is the BWL’s oldest operating power plant. The 350-MW plant’s generation units were installed over several years, beginning in the mid-1950s. It includes six units ranging from 41 MW of capacity to 77 MW.

Stephen Serkaian, a utility spokesman, said in a March 4 e-mail to GenerationHub: “The BWL denies the Sierra Club’s assertions. The BWL has been and remains in full compliance with state and federal clean air rules. The BWL has always been open to discussions with interested groups, including environmental groups like the Sierra Club, and continues to be committed to collaborative partnerships which further promote mid-Michigan’s clean energy future. The BWL is a recognized leader in environmental stewardship, renewable energy and energy optimization efforts. Our natural gas-fired REO Cogeneration Plant is among the most efficient and clean plants in the country, and continues the BWL’s status as an environmental leader by reducing carbon emissions 20 percent system wide.”

BWL’s first natural gas-fired power plant and first cogeneration plant, the REO Town plant went on-line in 2013 and generates up to 300,000 pounds of steam per hour and 100 MW of electricity.

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.