Coal-fired power plant reaches emissions deal

Portland General Electric Co., the Sierra Club and other environmental groups lodged a consent decree with the U.S. District Court in Portland to resolve allegations of Clean Air Act violations at the 610 MW coal-fired Boardman power plant in Oregon.

The consent decree settles a suit filed by the environmental groups in 2008. It still needs approval by the court following a 45-day review period by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice. PGE said it contested the allegations while working with the plaintiffs to resolve the matter without further litigation.

The decree caps permitted sulfur dioxide emissions from the Boardman Plant during its remaining coal-fired operation. It also allows for Boardman's continued operation through the end of 2020. In addition, PGE and its Boardman Plant co-owners will provide $2.5 million to the Oregon Community Foundation for environmental projects in the Columbia Gorge area and northeastern Oregon and pay $1 million to reimburse the plaintiffs for legal expenses.

PGE operates the Boardman Plant and owns 65 percent of it. The other owners are Bank of America Leasing LLC, 15 percent; Idaho Power Co., 10 percent; and Power Resources Cooperative, 10 percent.

PGE is installing controls to reduce emissions from the plant and has agreed to end the use of coal there by the end of 2020. The plan was adopted by state regulators in 2010.

On July 5, the EPA approved portions of Oregon’s state implementation plan for regional haze that pertain to the Boardman plantn. EPA approval was the final regulatory step in certifying that the plant's strategy complies with Clean Air Act requirements for regional haze.

PGE installed the first of the planned emissions control retrofits in spring 2011, including controls to filter out 90 percent of the plant’s mercury emissions. PGE also replaced the plant’s burners, which are expected to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 50 percent. In the fall of 2011, PGE will begin testing a dry sorbent injection system that is expected to reduce permitted emissions of sulfur dioxide 67 percent by 2014 and 75 percent by 2018.

Read more news and features on power plant emissions.

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