* WPS to invest $300 million in emissions controls
* Company to retire or repower four coal units
Jan 4 Power company Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) will invest about $300 million to upgrade a couple of coal plants in Wisconsin and pay a $1.2 million penalty, among other things, to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, two federal agencies said on Friday.
The company, a unit of Integrys Energy Inc of Chicago, also agreed to spend $6 million on environmental mitigation projects, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
Kerry Spees, a spokesman at WPS, told Reuters the EPA and the utility had been working for years to come to the settlement, which was related to a New Source Review issue.
New Source Review, or NSR, is an approvals process under the Clean Air Act that requires a pre-construction review by the EPA when a business proposes building a new facility or modifying an existing facility that would create a significant increase in regulated pollutants.
The settlement covers all eight of the coal-fired boilers at WPS's 421-megawatt (MW) Pulliam plant in Green Bay and the 1,085-MW Weston plant in Rothschild, the EPA said.
In addition to those coal plants, the company also operates natural gas and oil-fired units at the sites.
The settlement requires WPS to install new pollution control technology on one of its largest units, to continuously operate the new and existing pollution controls, and to comply with stringent emission rates and annual tonnage emission limitations.
The settlement also requires WPS to permanently retire, refuel or repower four additional coal-fired units at the Pulliam and Weston plants.
TIME TO DECIDE
WPS' Spees said the company had a couple of years to decide whether to repower or retire the existing units, noting the company in 2012 filed with Wisconsin regulators to invest about $250 million to upgrade the 321-MW Unit 3 at Weston in order to reduce emissions.
The EPA said the actions taken by WPS to comply with this settlement will result in annual reductions of about 15,000 tons from 2010 levels in the emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter.
The EPA said SO2 and NOx can cause numerous health problems, such as severe respiratory and cardiovascular damage, and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze.
The EPA said this is the 25th judicial settlement secured by the Justice Department and EPA under the Clean Air Act's New Source Review requirements.