Environmental Regulation

EPA Haze Plan Foists Costs on Basin

By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff Writer Published: January 27th, 2014

The Missouri Basin Power Project participants are weighing their options after the Environmental Protection Agency partially disapproved a state plan to address regional haze pollution—a move that could cost an electric cooperative and other coal-based generators across Wyoming more than $1 billion.

Laramie River Station Units 1 and 2 have low-NOx burners and all three units have over-fire air. Unit 3 is slated to get low-NOx burners this year. (Photo By: Basin Electric)

Laramie River Station Units 1 and 2 have low-NOx burners and all three units have over-fire air. Unit 3 is slated to get low-NOx burners this year. (Photo By: Basin Electric)

EPA’s decision sets a stricter limit on nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter than what the state had proposed. The rule is expected to be finalized soon with compliance required by early 2019.

Capital costs at the three-unit Laramie River Station near Wheatland, Wyo., alone are estimated at $750 million to meet the new federal restriction to reduce haze, according to Basin Electric Power Cooperative, which operates the power plant and is a part owner.

The regulation will require selective catalytic reduction technology (SCR) in addition to the over-fire air and low-NOx burners on all three units at the Laramie River, said Lyle Witham, the co-op’s manager of environmental services.

Units 1 and 2 have the low-NOx burners and all three units have over-fire air. Unit 3 is slated to get low-NOx burners this year.

State and industry officials told EPA in public hearings held in Wyoming that additional SCR technology would not measurably improve visibility, but result in higher power bills for consumers.

NRECA also had urged EPA to approve Wyoming’s plan to control haze pollution in keeping with the Clean Air Act.

“While Basin and other stakeholders—including the state and federal delegations—pressed EPA to adopt a more reasonable approach, EPA ignored their arguments and Basin, for one, will face considerable cost to install SCR on the Laramie units with limited visibility benefits resulting from this requirement,” said Ted Cromwell, NRECA senior principal, environmental policy.

The Missouri Basin Power Project participants, owners of the Laramie River Station and adjacent facilities, include Heartland Consumers Power District, Madison, S.D.; Lincoln Electric System, Lincoln, Neb.; Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Westminster, Colo.; Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Ortonville, Minn.; Wyoming Municipal Power Agency, Lusk, Wyo.; and Basin Electric, Bismarck, N.D.

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