Ohio Utility to Shut Down Plant, Pay $850,000 for Air Violations

American Municipal Power (AMP), an Ohio non-profit utility, will permanently retire its Richard H. Gorsuch Station coal-fired power plant near Marietta under a settlement to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, EPA and the U.S. Justice Department announced recently. As part of the settlement, AMP will also spend $15 million on an environmental mitigation project and pay a civil penalty of $850,000.

The agreement resolves violations of the Clean Air Act’s new source review requirements at the company’s Gorsuch Station, which has a sulfur dioxide emission rate in the highest three percent of coal-fired utility sources in the country.

“Today’s settlement substantially reduces harmful air pollution from coal-fired power plants, and requires a large scale energy efficiency program within the AMP community,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These pollutants can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. Coal-fired power plants of all sizes are large sources of air emissions, and EPA is committed to making sure that they all comply with the law.”

“The Justice Department is committed to strong enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws in order to protect human health and the environment,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement will remove harmful emissions from this coal-fired power plant by tens of thousands of tons each year and will significantly benefit air quality. We are also pleased that AMP has shown creative leadership to implement a program that encourages efficient energy use.”

Under the settlement, AMP will permanently retire the Gorsuch Station by Dec. 31, 2012, and implement interim sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emission limits until that date. AMP made a business decision that shutting down the plant and providing for replacement energy was its preferred option for bringing the plant into compliance. The settlement requires AMP to spend $15 million on an energy efficiency project to benefit the environment and mitigate the adverse effects of the alleged violations.

The settlement is part of the EPA’s national enforcement initiative to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements.

AMP, based in Columbus, Ohio, is a nonprofit organization that provides generation, transmission, and distribution of wholesale electric power to municipal electric systems. AMP is made up of 129 member municipal communities in five states.

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