Basin Electric settles with EPA over haze mandate for Laramie River coal plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Dec. 30 Federal Register gave notice of a proposed settlement agreement to address a consolidated set of petitions for review filed by opposing parties in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative and the State of Wyoming had filed petitions for review of an EPA rule addressing the regional haze requirements in Wyoming. Specifically, Basin Electric challenged the rule as it pertained to the NOx BART emission limits for the coal-fired Laramie River Units 1-3. Wyoming also challenged the rule based on EPA’s action on the Laramie River units and on other grounds. The proposed settlement agreement would establish deadlines for EPA to take specified actions.

Written comments on the proposed settlement must be received within 30 days after Dec. 30.

In a January 2014 Final Rule, EPA disapproved, in part, the Wyoming regional haze SIP, including the NOx BART requirements as to Laramie River Units 1-3, and promulgated a federal implementation plan (FIP) that imposed a NOX BART emission limit of 0.07 lb/MMBtu (30-day rolling average) at Laramie River Units 1-3. Petitioners have raised various challenges to the Final Rule. This settlement would resolve all of Basin Electric’s challenges to the Final Rule and those portions of Wyoming’s challenge to the Final Rule related to the establishment of NOx BART emission limits for Laramie River Units 1-3.

To address the limited portion of SO2 emissions in the regional haze program that would be covered under the BART Alternative and the Western Regional SO2 Milestone and Backstop Trading Program, Basin Electric commits to submit to Wyoming a request for a source-specific SIP revision rulemaking that will ensure that Basin Electric cannot take credit for the SO2 emission reductions achieved through the emission requirements for the purposes of both the BART Alternative for Laramie River Units 2 and 3 and the 309 Program. Basin Electric agrees to submit this request to Wyoming no later than 30 days after this settlement agreement becomes final.

Basin Electric’s request for a source-specific SIP revision proceedings will include:

  • A request for Wyoming to revise its SIP to provide that for all purposes under the 309 Program, including the reporting of annual emissions to Wyoming, Basin Electric must use the average SO2 lb/MMBtu emission rates for Laramie River Units 1 and 2 achieved during the 2001-2003 BART baseline period to calculate its SO2 emissions. Specifically, the SIP revision will provide that Basin Electric must use the SO2 emission rates of 0.159 lb/MMBtu for Laramie River Unit 1 and 0.162 lb/MMBtu for Laramie River Unit 2, and multiply those rates by the actual heat input during the year for each unit to calculate and report emissions under the 309 Program; and
  • An analysis of conforming amendments needed to the 309 Program (and any other SIP provisions).

Wyoming will expeditiously review Basin Electric’s submission and promptly take action to deny the request or initiate a proceeding consistent with the applicable state laws and regulations and to submit the SIP revision, if adopted, to EPA for review. No later than six months after EPA’s receipt of a state-adopted SIP revision from Wyoming that contains conforming amendments, EPA will sign a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise the FIP (“Revised FIP”) that includes:

  • NOx emission limits voluntarily requested by Basin Electric as part of this agreement for Laramie River Unit 1 of: 0.06 lb/MMBtu on a 30-day rolling average commencing July 1, 2019; and 0.18 lb/MMBtu on a 30-day rolling average for the interim commencing the date that EPA’s final Revised FIP becomes effective and ending June 30, 2019. These limits are in addition to the NOx emission limit for Laramie River Unit 1 of 0.07 lb/MMBtu on a 30-day rolling average in EPA’s FIP.
  • An alternative to the NOX BART requirements in EPA’s FIP that apply to Laramie River Units 2 and 3 which consists of: NOx emission limits for Laramie River Units 2 and 3 of 0.18 lb/MMBtu on a 30-day rolling average commencing the date that EPA’s final Revised FIP becomes effective and ending on Dec. 30, 2018; and 0.15 lb/MMBtu on a 30-day rolling average commencing Dec. 31, 2018; and SO2 emission limits for Laramie River Units 1 and 2 of 0.12 lb/MMBtu averaged annually across the two units commencing the date that EPA’s final Revised FIP becomes effective.
  • A requirement that Basin Electric install and operate Selective Catalytic Reduction on Unit 1 by July 1, 2019; and an amendment of the existing FIP compliance date to July 1, 2019; and a requirement that Basin Electric install and operate Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction for each of Units 2 and 3 by Dec. 31, 2018.

The Basin Electric board of directors in January 2016 had approved the installation of SCR emission control technology on just one unit at Laramie River for Regional Haze Rule compliance.

The Laramie River Station, located east of Wheatland, Wyoming, is one of the largest consumer-operated, regional, joint power supply ventures in the United States. It has three coal-based units: Unit 1 (570 MW net) began operating in 1980; Unit 2 (570 MW net) began operating in 1981; and Unit 3 (570 MW net) began operating in 1982.

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.