- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) | A coal-fired power plant under construction in Wise County will add to Southwest Virginia’s air pollution, but an existing generating station nearby will reduce some of its emissions.

The process for approving air permits for the $1.8 billion Dominion Virginia Power plant resulted in a discovery that Appalachian Power’s Clinch River plant could exceed its permitted sulfur-dioxide emissions.

Under a consent order between Appalachian and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, the utility will reduce its emissions by about one-third, said company spokesman John Shepelwich.

“We haven’t ever been in noncompliance, Mr. Shepelwich said, but “under the worst case, we could exceed the standards.”

Appalachian has a current limit of 28,000 tons a year of sulfur dioxide, but the consent order issued last month will cut the maximum to about 19,000 tons at the Russell County plant. The company plans to achieve that limit by Jan. 1.

Dominion’s 585-megawatt Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center will be allowed to emit slightly more than 600 tons of sulfur dioxide a year, meaning a net decrease in emissions of that pollutant allowed in the region.

Appalachian’s plant will achieve the reduction by burning more low-sulfur coal, Mr. Shepelwich said. A mixer will be installed at the 50-year-old plant to monitor and blend the types of coal burned to achieve the lower sulfur level.

In addition, the consent order calls for four monitors to be placed in the area to check the sulfur-dioxide emissions. If the emissions reach a certain level, Mr. Shepelwich said, the plant will cut back on generation of electricity at the 705-megawatt plant.

The limit on sulfur dioxide exceeds one requirement of a nearly $80 million settlement reached last fall between Appalachian’s parent, American Electric Power, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The agreement requires the Clinch River plant to reduce sulfur-dioxide emissions to 21,700 tons a year by Jan. 1, 2010, then to 16,300 by Jan. 1, 2015.

Under that settlement, Appalachian also is required to cut nitrogen-dioxide emissions at the plant. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide contribute to acid rain.

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