Enforcement

Ohio Edison Company, W.H. Sammis Power Station, Clean Air Act - 2005 Settlement and 2009 Modified Settlement

(WASHINGTON, D.C. August 11, 2009) - Ohio Edison Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has agreed in a consent decree to repower one of its coal-fired power plants using primarily renewable biomass fuels, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

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2009 Modified Settlement

Overview

On August 11, 2009, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice announced that pursuant to a federal consent decree, Ohio Edison will repower the Burger plant to use primarily renewable biomass fuels. The Burger plant is located near Shadyside, Ohio. This agreement with Ohio Edison modifies the 2005 settlement with the company.

The states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut joined the United States in this consent decree modification, which represents the first Clean Air Act settlement under which net greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by more than 1.3 million tons a year. The Burger plant will be the largest coal-fired electric utility plant in the country to repower with renewable biomass fuels.

Summary of Consent Decree Modification

Under the modified agreement, Ohio Edison will repower the Burger plant beginning in 2012 with mostly biomass fuels, co-firing with not more than 20 percent low sulfur coal, including natural wood from waste tree trimmings and dedicated sustainable nurseries, agricultural crops, grasses and vegetation waste or products. Following a year of initial operation and optimization, the Burger plant will be subject to enforceable emissions rates for sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM).

Emissions Reductions

As a result of this modification, reductions from current levels of SO2 emissions are expected to be as much as 14,000 tons a year; for NOx, as much as 1,300 tons a year; and for PM, as much as 700 tons a year. The units' emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are expected to approach "neutrality," meaning that CO2 emissions released by burning biomass fuel will be offset by the amount of CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere by the wood and vegetation grown to produce the fuel. Burger is expected to emit a net amount of approximately 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year, based on 20 percent coal co-firing, versus more than 1.7 million tons currently emitted from the units' coal-fired combustion.

  • Nitrogen Oxides - NOx causes a variety of health problems and adverse environmental impacts, such as ground-level ozone, acid rain, PM, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment. Nitrogen oxides play a major role, with volatile organic chemicals, in the atmospheric reactions that produce ozone.
  • Sulfur Dioxide - High concentrations of SO2 affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children and the elderly. Sulfur dioxide is also a primary contributor to acid deposition, or acid rain.
  • Particulate Matter - Health effects of PM include increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits, increased respiratory symptoms and disease, decreased lung function, and alterations in lung tissue and structure and in respiratory tract defense mechanisms and premature death. PM also is the major cause of reduced visibility in many parts of the nation.

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State and Federal Partnerships

The states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have joined EPA in this consent decree modification.

Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval by the district court. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.

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2005 Settlement

On March 18, 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice announced a major Clean Air Act (CAA) New Source Review Program (NSR) settlement with Ohio Edison Company (Ohio Edison), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., to resolve CAA violations at the company's W.H. Sammis Power Plant located in Stratton, Ohio, several of the company's coal-fired power plants in Illinois. The states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit and also joined the settlement.

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Overview

On March 18, 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice announced a major Clean Air Act (CAA) New Source Review Program (NSR) settlement with Ohio Edison Company (Ohio Edison), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., to resolve CAA violations at the company's W.H. Sammis Power Plant located in Stratton, Ohio, several of the company's coal-fired power plants in Illinois. The states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit and also joined the settlement.

Under the settlement, Ohio Edison will spend $1.1 billion between now and 2012 on various pollution controls to substantially decrease emissions at the Sammis plant and other nearby Ohio Edison power plants. The Sammis plant must comply with an annual tonnage cap for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions that declines over time.

Approximately 212,500 tons of SO2 and NOx emissions will be reduced annually, based on 2003 emissions.

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State and Federal Partnerships

The settlement reflects the culmination of a well-coordinated partnership between EPA, the Justice Department and the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and the National Park Service. Each of the states participated in the case and its settlement. Allegheny County, Pa., (which includes Pittsburgh) also participated actively in settlement negotiations.

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Power Plants Enforcement Effort

This settlement with Ohio Edison represents the ninth judicial settlement under the power plants enforcement effort. EPA has reached similar settlement with: Illinois Power Company and Dynegy Midwest Generation, Alcoa (Rockdale, Tex., Facility, industrial boiler); PSEG Fossil; Southern Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper); Southern Indiana Gas and Electric Company (SIGECO), Culley Station; Tampa Electric Company (TECO); Virginia Electric Power Company (VEPCO); and Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO). The settlements reduce annual pollution emissions by approximately 940,000 tons and require the installation of over $5.5 billion worth of state-of-the-art air pollution controls.

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Clean Air Act Violations

In November 1999, the United States and the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut filed this lawsuit alleging that Ohio Edison undertook construction projects at the Sammis Plant in violation of the New Source Review program. In August 2003, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio affirmed all allegations and found that Ohio Edison failed to obtain Clean Air Act permits or to install required pollution controls.

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Environmental Benefits

This settlement requires Ohio Edison to remove a total of approximately 212,500 tons per year of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from 2003 emission levels. This total number of reductions is comprised of 171,500 tons per year of SO2 and 31,050 tons per year of NOx. In addition to these annual reductions, this agreement secures 71,600 tons of SO2 and 2,500 tons of NOx before 2011 to account for the time necessary to install the required controls at Sammis.

  • Nitrogen Oxides - NOx causes a variety of health problems and adverse environmental impacts, such as ground-level ozone, acid rain, PM, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment. Nitrogen oxides play a major role, with volatile organic chemicals, in the atmospheric reactions that produce ozone.
  • Sulfur Dioxide - High concentrations of SO2 affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children and the elderly. Sulfur dioxide is also a primary contributor to acid deposition, or acid rain.

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Settlement Terms

Injunctive Relief-

In 2003, the Sammis plant emitted 164,400 tons of SO2 and 40,430 tons of NOx. The Sammis plant will be capped to 29,900 tpy of SO2 and 11,863 tpy of NOx. The Sammis Power plant will reduce emission by 134,500 tpy of SO2 starting in 2012 (82 percent reduction) and 28,567 tpy of NOx starting in 2007 (42 percent reduction).

Eastlake Power Plant, located in Eastlake, Ohio, will reduce its NOx emissions by 11,000 tpy starting in 2007.

Burger Power Plant, located in Belmont County, Ohio, will reduce its NOx emissions by 1,400 tpy starting in 2009 and its SO2 emission by 25,000 tpy as earlier as 2011. The agreement provides Ohio Edison the ability to repower the Burger facility with state-of-the-art controls by 2012.

Mansfield Power Plant, located in Beaver County, Pa., will reduce its SO2 emission starting in 2006 and by 2008 will achieve SO2 emission reductions of 12,000 tpy.

The agreement represents a total reduction of 171,500 tpy of SO2 and 31,050 tpy of NOx from existing units by 2012. It also requires the surrender of excess SO2 allowances and restriction of NOx allowances. Proposed consent decree requirements must be incorporated into enforceable permits.

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Environmentally Beneficial Projects

The consent decree requires Ohio Edison to fund $25 million worth of mitigation projects, including $14.4 million in alternative power projects (wind power or, with plaintiffs' consent, landfill gas projects), $215,000 for environmentally beneficial projects for the National Park Service related to air pollution, $400,000 for solar power projects in Allegheny County municipal buildings, and $10 million to the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for other environmentally beneficial projects related to air pollution.

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Civil Penalty

Ohio Edison will pay a $8.5 million civil penalty.

Source: EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and Region 5, U.S. EPA, March 18, 2005.

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For additional information, contact:

Ilana Saltzbart
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2242A)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460-0001
(202) 564-9935
saltzbart.ilana@epa.gov