A Virginia-based energy company that owns the largest coal-fired power plant in New England has agreed to pay millions of dollars in fines and to fund environmental projects in several states as part of a settlement to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday.
Dominion Energy will pay the government $3.4 million in fines and spend nearly $10 million on projects, the EPA and the US Justice Department said in a statement. Those projects are aimed at improving the environment and benefiting the public health in communities surrounding the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Mass., and coal-fired power plants in Kincaid, Ill., and State Line, Ind., the agencies said.
The EPA alleged in 2009 that the Illinois and Indiana plants violated Clean Air Act emission restrictions, but a Dominion spokesman denied the allegations in an e-mail Monday. The 2009 allegations did not include the Somerset plant, but it was added to the settlement to avoid separate action from the EPA on that plant.
Jim Norvelle, Dominion’s director of media relations, said the company opted for the settlement to avoid a long, expensive legal battle and to improve the environment.
“Since 2000, Dominion has invested more than $3 billion in environmental projects at our fleet of coal-fired power stations to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter and ensure that they comply with federal and state environmental regulations,” Norvelle said in an e-mail.
“This includes more than $1 billion at Brayton Point and Kincaid power stations,” he said.
Norvelle said Dominion closed the Indiana power plant in March 2012 and sold it three months later to BTU Solutions of Houston. He said the Massachusetts and Illinois plants were in the process of being sold to a private equity firm.
The EPA touted the environmental benefits of the settlement, saying it would reduce nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter emissions by more than 70,000 tons per year. The $9.75 million designated for environmental mitigation projects includes $3.63 million for projects in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.