The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has approved American Electric Power’s (AEP) modified agreement that will accelerate emission reductions from the company’s remaining coal-fueled power plants in the Midwest. The agreement eliminates a requirement to install high-cost emission reduction equipment at the AEP’s Rockport Plant in Rockport, Indiana, and retire Rockport Plant Unit 1 1,300 MW by the end of 2028.
This is the fifth modification to a consent decree originally reached in December 2007 involving AEP, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, several northeastern states, the Sierra Club, and other parties. All parties agreed to this modification.
The original agreement settled allegations that AEP violated new source review provisions and made major modifications to its power plants without obtaining proper permits and installing best available technology to control emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). AEP denied the allegations. No final decision on liability was issued by the Court.
As a result of this modification, AEP’s Indiana Michigan Power operating unit will operate enhanced dry sorbent injection equipment on both generating units at Rockport Plant beginning in 2021 to accelerate SO2 emission reductions and achieve a plant-wide emissions rate of 10,000 tons or less a year. This change will accelerate SO2 emission cuts from Rockportby eight years. The previous agreement would have achieved the same levels of emission cuts in 2029.
Additionally, Indiana Michigan Power will operate selective catalytic reduction to reduce NOx emissions from Rockport Unit 2 by June 1, 2020. AEP will retire Rockport Unit 1 by the end of 2028. AEP also will cut the annual SO2 emissions from its coal-fueled plants in the Midwest to 89,000 tons per year by 2029, compared with the current cap of 113,000 tons per year.
“This modified agreement greatly benefits our Indiana Michigan Power customers. It eliminates the need to spend nearly $1 billion to install flue gas desulfurization, or scrubber, equipment at Rockport Plant while still achieving emission reductions at a lower cost and sooner than previously planned,” said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP chairman, president and CEO.
AEP has made significant reductions in emissions from its power plants over the last three decades. Since 1990, AEP’s SO2 and NOx emissions have dropped by 96% and 92% respectively. The company’s mercury emissions have been cut by 95% since 2001. AEP’s carbon dioxide emissions are 59% lower than in 2000. AEP has set a goal to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 80% from 2000 levels by 2050.
AEP has retired more than 8,600 MW of coal-fueled generation since 2011 and will retire another 1,100 MW by the end of 2020. The company recently added 724 MW of wind and battery generation to its contracted competitive portfolio and has proposed adding more than 9,100 MW of wind and solar generation to its regulated power plant fleet by 2030.