06/21/2013

Board of Pulic Utilities/Unified Government Settle Threatened Lawsuit with Sierra Club

(KANSAS CITY, Ks.)The Board of Public Utilities/Unified Government (BPU/UG) has entered into a Consent Agreement with the Sierra Club to settle Sierra Club allegations that opacity at the Nearman Power Plant and the Quindaro Power Plant exceeded levels allowed under the air permits for each plant.

Opacity is the degree to which transmission of light is reduced by particles in the air. The Sierra Club also alleges that the alleged excess opacity indicates that the Nearman Plant is not implementing good engineering controls for pollution.

The BPU/UG dispute the allegations and believe that the opacity instances referred to by the Sierra Club fall within Kansas regulations that provide that opacity may exceed limits during certain events, primarily startup, shutdown, or malfunction of plant operations.

The federal Clean Air Act allows citizens and groups to enforce the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and permits issued under authority of the Clean Air Act through actions in federal court. The Sierra Club has sued dozens of electric utilities across the Country for alleged violations of various air emission requirements, including suits including opacity claims. In part, the lawsuits are used to further the Sierra Club "Beyond Coal Campaign" which seeks to replace coal with other forms of fuel for electric generation.

The Consent Decree generally requires that the two Quindaro generating units permanently cease burning coal by April 16, 2015, that the Nearman Station add baghouse controls to meet a specific negotiated emissions limit for filterable particulate matter in air emissions by September 1, 2017, and that specified Energy Efficiency Projects be undertaken.

Don Gray, General Manager of the BPU, said "We believe that the Nearman and Quindaro Power Plants are operated in compliance with the law. Unfortunately, interpretations of the law differ in this instance. We were able to resolve differences with a settlement that is beneficial to both parties and, most importantly, that is beneficial to BPU customers”.

Key Aspects of the Consent Decree

  • Cease burning coal at Quindaro Unit 1 and Quindaro Unit 2 by April 16, 2015.
  • Install and continuously operate a baghouse at Nearman and by September 1, 2017 meet a limit of 0.01 lb/mmBtu filterable particulate matter to be measured on a 30-day rolling average with continuous emissions monitors.
  • Expend a total of $750,000 for the development and implement of the following Energy Efficiency Projects:
    • Energy Efficiency Community Collaborative to promote and enhance the implementation of energy efficiency practices by residential, commercial, and industrial customers of BPU electric power. Collaborative members will be selected by BPU from local organizations. The Unified Government will have a representative on the Collaborative.
    • Energy Efficiency Projects to be funded at an average of $150,000 per year for years 2013 through 2017. The funds will be expended on any combination of the following energy efficiency projects:
      • Home Energy Audit Program - certified auditors will provide energy efficiency improvement recommendations and information. The audit cost is $50 to be refunded with documentation of completion of the recommended improvements.
      • Refrigerator Replacement Program – a rebate for replacement of an old refrigerator can be made upon documentation of purchase of an efficient refrigerator and documentation of proper disposal of the replaced refrigerator.
      • Habitat for Humanity Low-Income Housing Retrofits Donation – to provide funding for identification and implementation of energy efficiency improvements in low-income housing. This is administered by Habitat for Humanity.
  • Pay the reasonable attorney fees and costs of Sierra Club in this matter.
  • Sierra Club agrees not to initiate any action in proceedings for permits or approvals needed to accomplish the requirements of the Consent Decree.

About BPU

BPU’s water department was originally created in 1909, and its electric utility was operational in 1912. The purpose of the utility, then and to this day, is to provide the highest quality electric and water services at the lowest possible cost. Today the publicly owned utility serves approximately 63,000 electric and 50,000 water customers, primarily in Wyandotte County, Kansas. The mission of the utility and its employees is “to focus on the needs of our customers, to improve the quality of life in our community while promoting safe, reliable and sustainable utilities.” BPU’s Web site is www.bpu.com.
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