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TransAlta Agrees to Cut Emissions at Coal-Fired Power Plant in Washington State

TransAlta has signed an agreement (PDF) with the state of Washington’s Department of Ecology to cut mercury and visibility-limiting emissions from the state’s only coal-fired power plant, reports Renewablesbiz.com. The Canadian utility pledged to reduce up to 20 percent of nitrogen-oxide emissions and up to 50 percent of its mercury emissions.

Under the agreement, the new emissions controls must be operating no later than Dec. 31, 2012. TransAlta expects it will cost $20 to $30 million to implement the new system.

TransAlta had agreed previously to start installing controls to reduce those emissions at the Centralia plant in 2009, according to the article.

The Department of Ecology has said the TransAlta Centralia power plant is Washington’s largest stationary source of nitrogen-oxide emissions at about 14,000 tons per year, which is roughly 4 percent of the statewide total. It also contributed to 11 percent of the state’s 99 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMT CO2e) in 2008.

According to TransAlta’s Website, the company has invested more than $300 million in pollution control technology at the Centralia Plant, including scrubbers and low nitrogen dioxide burners.

The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service has said the haze the plant currently produces is unacceptable but the agreement maintains current pollution levels at 12,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, and protects TransAlta from any new regulatory demands until 2018, according to The SunBreak.

However, the state and TransAlta have signed a memorandum of understanding (PDF) that the coal-fired plant will be shut down by 2025, according to the article.

Twelve states have mandated mercury reductions of up to 90 percent, as they wait for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to propose new mercury regulations, reports The SunBreak.

In May, the EPA released a proposal that will cut mercury emissions in the U.S. by more than half and significantly cut other pollutants from boilers, process heaters and solid waste incinerators. The estimated annual cost to businesses for installing and operating pollution controls would be $3.6 billion.

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