The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that Dominion Energy would pay a $3.4 million civil penalty and spend approximately $9.8 million on environmental mitigation projects to resolve Clean Air Act (CAA) violations.
The deal will result in reductions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter by more than 70,000 tons per year, across three of the utility’s coal-fired power plants, located in Kincaid, IL, State Line, IN and Somerset, MA.
Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including coal-fired power plants, is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013. SO2 and NOx, two pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze.
EPA says that these pollutants are converted in the air to fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near Dominion facilities, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children.
Because air pollution from power plants travels significant distances downwind, this settlement will also reduce air pollution outside the immediate region. The total combined sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emission reductions secured from all power plant settlements to date will exceed 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.
Under the latest deal, Dominion must install or upgrade pollution control technology at two plants, and permanently retire a third plant. Dominion will be required to operate continuously the new and existing pollution controls, and will be required to comply with stringent emission rates and annual tonnage limitations.
The actions taken by Dominion to comply with this settlement will result in annual reductions at the Brayton Point and Kincaid plants of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by 52,000 tons from 2010 levels. The retirement of the State Line plant will result in an additional reduction of 18,000 tons of SO2 and NOx.
The settlement also requires Dominion to spend $9.75 million on projects that will benefit the environment and human health in communities located near the Dominion facilities. A total of $9 million will be spent on such projects as ; 1) wood stove change outs, including $2 million for change outs in southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut; 2) switcher locomotive idle reduction for Chicago rail yards, 3) land acquisition and restoration adjacent to, or near, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, 4) energy efficiency and geothermal/solar projects for local schools and food banks, and 5) clean diesel engine retrofits for municipalities and school districts. Dominion must also pay a total of $750,000 to the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service, to be used on projects to address the damage done from Dominion’s alleged excess emissions.