New settlement to boost air quality, Connecticut officials say
Changes made to a settlement agreement between the nation’s largest electric power producer and eight states, including Connecticut, are expected to result in significant air quality improvements, according to state officials.
American Electric Power Co. has agreed to more aggressively reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from its coal-fired generating plants than originally called for in a 2007 settlement of a lawsuit Connecticut and the states filed against the utility, said Susan Kinsman, a spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.
The company has also agreed to pay $6 million to fund pollution mitigation projects in the eight states, and invest in wind power projects under certain conditions under the changes made to the settlement agreement.
Connecticut’s share of the $6 million for pollution mitigation projects is $714,286, according to the changes to the settlement agreement, which were filed in an Ohio federal court Friday.
“My office agreed to reopen the settlement only if the changes would result in a greater environmental benefit to the state and the people of Connecticut, who suffer from higher rates of asthma than those nationally,” Jepsen said in a statement Monday.
“This new agreement accomplishes that goal by reducing a significant source of sulfur dioxide pollution faster. It also commits AEP to equip more plants with pollution controls, switch them to cleaner fuels or close them down.”
Under the new agreement, AEP will cap its annual sulfur dioxide emissions at 145,000 tons by 2016, and progressively reduce that annual cap to 94,000 tons in 2029. The original agreement capped sulfur dioxide emissions for 2016 at 260,000 tons and ended cap reductions in 2019 at 174,000 tons.
This is the third modification to the original settlement, to which Connecticut environmental regulators were a party. AEP asked for the agreement to be reopened to change the pollution control technology on two of its coal-fired plants in Indiana.
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection agreed to the modifications to the original settlement, which Commissioner Dan Esty said “moves us closer to closing this unfortunate chapter in our history.”
“Our residents have long suffered the public health consequences of air pollution carried here from power plants elsewhere that burn dirtier fuels, while these other states benefited economically from low-cost electricity,” Esty said in a statement. “(This) will help level the playing field between Connecticut and other states.”
Call Luther Turmelle at 203-789-5706.