|Duke Energy Settles NSR Lawsuit|
On September 10, EPA and the Department of Justice announced a consent decree with Duke Energy Corporation involving coal-fired power plants in North Carolina. The settlement resolves long-standing claims that Duke violated the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD)/New Source Review (NSR) program by unlawfully modifying 13 coal-fired electricity generating units located at the Allen, Buck, Cliffside, Dan River, and Riverbend plants, without obtaining air permits and installing and operating the required air pollution control technologies. The United States was joined in the settlement by co-plaintiffs Environmental Defense, the North Carolina Sierra Club, and Environment North Carolina. Trial was set to begin in October 2015.
Duke recently shut down 11 of the 13 units, and under the settlement those shutdowns also become a permanent and enforceable obligation under the consent decree. At the remaining two units at the Allen facility in Belmont, N.C., Duke must continuously operate pollution controls to control sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and meet interim emission limits before permanently retiring them in 2024. In addition, the settlement requires that Duke retire another unit at the Allen plant, spend a total of $4.4 million on environmental mitigation projects, and pay a civil penalty of $975,000.
EPA estimates that the settlement will reduce emissions by approximately 2,300 tons per year from the three Allen units, as compared to recent emission levels. With these additional retirements, total emissions from all 13 allegedly modified units, which were in excess of 51,000 tons in 2000 when the suit was filed, will be zero.
The settlement was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. For more information on the proposed settlement, go tohttp://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/duke-energy-corporation-clean-air-act-caa-settlement.