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U.S. Reaches Settlement with Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co. on Clean Air Act Power Plants Initiative

Release Date: 06/06/2003
Contact Information:

ENRD (202) 514-2007
EPA (202) 564-7842

(06/06/03) WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency today announced a multi-million dollar Clean Air Act settlement with Southern Indiana Gas and Electric Company, Inc. (SIGECO). The settlement resolves the federal government’s claims that SIGECO violated the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act at its F.B. Culley Station plant in Newburgh, Indiana by undertaking major modifications and increasing emissions of air pollution without also installing required air pollution controls. The settlement is expected to eliminate approximately 10,500 tons of harmful air pollutants annually from three coal-fired electricity generating units at the Culley Station.

Today’s settlement is consistent with a series of cases pursued by the federal government to bring the coal-fired power plant industry into full compliance with the New Source Review requirements of the Clean Air Act, and is the first of those litigated cases to be resolved. The agreement requires SIGECO to install and/or upgrade state-of-the-art controls at two units and elect to shut down or re-power and control a third unit.

"We are happy that SIGECO finally chose to resolve the United States’ claims through a consent agreement rather than battling us in court," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas L. Sansonetti. "This excellent settlement shows how the Department’s aggressive enforcement can help bring industry into compliance with our environmental laws, ultimately making for cleaner air for all citizens to enjoy. I hope defendants in our other cases take the hint that settling with the United States is the right thing to do.”

The agreement requires SIGECO, a public utility and wholly-owned subsidiary of Vectren Corporation, to install a state-of-the-art environmental control to significantly reduce particulate matter (PM) emissions. In addition, the agreement requires SIGECO to significantly reduce emissions from the Culley plant of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by continuously operating a control device designed to remove NOx emissions which the company would otherwise operate only during the summer ozone season. SIGECO will also reduce SO2 emissions by significantly improving the operation of existing pollution abatement equipment. By 2006, SIGECO will upgrade its oldest unit by repowering the unit with natural gas or installing new state of the art pollution abatement equipment, or permanently retiring the unit. These measures will result in a reduction of NOx from the Culley Plant of more than 4,000 tons a year and SO2 from the plant of more than 6,000 tons a year.

“EPA continues to aggressively enforce the nation’s environmental laws, and as a result of our actions, the people of this great country can be assured of cleaner air,” said John Peter Suarez, the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Companies must act responsibly and within the law when it comes to protecting public health and the environment.”

It is estimated that SIGECO will spend approximately $30 million to reduce emissions of NOx, SO2 and PM and come into compliance with the Clean Air Act. The company will also pay a civil penalty of $600,000 and will spend at least $2.5 million on an environmental project to install and operate technology to reduce emissions from the Culley plant of sulfuric acid, a chemical affecting air opacity in the vicinity of the plant.

This settlement will significantly benefit human health and the environment by reducing harmful air pollutants. Sulfur dioxide and NOx are significant contributors to acid rain; NOx also increases low-level ozone, which causes smog; PM causes haze. All of these pollutants cause severe respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma.

With the SIGECO settlement, this string of consent decrees is extended to five significant power plant settlements during the past eighteen months. These enforcement actions will have been responsible for reducing approximately 125,000 tons of NOx and 325,00 tons of SO2, annually. Those five settlements, and the dates they were lodged with courts, are: PSEG (January 24, 2002) , Alcoa (April 9, 2003), Wisconsin Electric (April 29, 2003), VEPCO (April 21, 2003), and - today - SIGECO .

“This consent agreement represents a step toward cleaner air in the Southern District of Indiana,” said United States Attorney Susan W. Brooks. “Important legal issues were resolved here that will advance the government’s enforcement efforts.”

The SIGECO settlement was lodged today for a 30-day public comment period in the United States District Court in Indianapolis, Indiana.