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EPA Adopts Working Group’s Navajo Generating Station Proposal

Photo credit: azcommunitypress.org

Photo credit: azcommunitypress.org

By Eric Jay Toll for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

EPA1In a turnabout hailed by Navajo Generating Station partners, the EPA’s final rulemaking to reduce haze aligns with the Arizona-generated proposal. The final rulemaking came out July 28 incorporating major elements proposed by the Technical Work Group.

The EPA originally proposed a rule requiring best available retrofit technology (BART). Had this proposal been enacted, it would have cost NGS partners—and electrical rate payers—more than $1B to implement.

Under Central Arizona Project leadership, a group of utilities, environmental advocates and governments compiled a list of affordable and realistic recommendations. EPA chose the “better than BART” recommendations.

The process was spurred by a proposed February 2013 EPA rule to lower haze at the Grand Canyon and other national parks. The agency planned to impose the BART rules on NGS, a 2.3 megawatt coal-fired generating plant in the Four Corners region.

Although EPA has the authority to impose its standards, recognizing the impact on agriculture and water users, it invited alternative proposals.

Cutting the haze-generated nitrous oxide emissions was a major thrust of the group’s efforts in crafting an alternative for EPA consideration. The result is a multi-pollutant reduction proposal through a transition for part of the plant or other actions to achieve comparable emission reductions.

TWG’s proposal includes commitments from the U.S. Department of Interior providing significant environmental, clean energy and economic development benefits beyond those associated with regional haze.

The benefits include 27 million megawatt-hours of new clean energy with a focus of economic development for the affected tribes. Interior is also charged with a 3 percent per year reduction in carbon dioxide emissions associated with NGS power.