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Homer City Generating Station

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Homer City Generating Station is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Edison International near Homer City, Pennsylvania.

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United States Files Clean Air Act Complaint Against Homer City Power Plant

On January 11, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a Clean Air Act complaint on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against the owners and operators of the Homer City Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in Homer City, Indiana County, Pa.

According to the complaint filed by the EPA, beginning in 1990 operators of the Homer City Power Plant violated the Clean Air Act New Source Review requirements by making major modifications to the boiler units at the power plant and continuing to operate without first obtaining appropriate permits and installing and operating the best available pollution control technologies to reduce sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.

In addition, the complaint alleged that the plant operators had not disclosed the plant’s major modifications, the need for best available control technologies, nor the appropriate emissions limits in their request for a Title V operating permit from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. Also, the defendants’ Title V permit did not include the required limits on emissions that would be achieved using the best available pollution control technologies.[1]

States join suit

In February 2011, New Jersey joined in the lawsuit filed by the federal government, New York, and Pennsylvania, asking the court to shut down the plant until it meets standards of the Clean Air Act, as well as civil penalties and other relief. A spokesman for owner Edison Mission Energy has said the company spent about $300 million since its 1999 purchase to reduce emissions and that violations occurred before it acquired the facility.[2]

Lack of financing for pollution controls

In March 2012, Edison Mission Group said it was unable to secure third party financing for the environmental controls needed to meet more stringent federal environmental rules at its Homer plant. In response, parent company Edison International said it took an impairment charge because it expects to lose substantially all economic interest in Homer City. The company did not say whether the 43-year-old plant would shut over the next few years. Edison International's total impairment charges related to Homer City and three other coal plants in Illinois were over $1 billion, which resulted in the company posting a basic loss for the full year 2011 and the fourth quarter.[3]

Pollution controls approved

On April 3, 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approved plans to install a $725 million pollution control system at the Homer City plant. In response, the Sierra Club issued the statement that "[s]ome of the best economic analysts in the region have repeatedly shown that this plant simply isn't economically viable. It's a bad investment for General Electric and it's certainly a bad investment for the people of Indiana County. Rather than let $750 million go up in smoke, it's time for this plant to retire."[4]

Plant Data

  • Owner: Midwest Generation EME LLC
  • Parent Company: Edison International
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 2,012 MW
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 660 MW (1969), 660 MW (1969), 692 MW (1977)
  • Location: 1750 Power Plant Rd., Homer City, PA 15748
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.511406, -79.197677
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 11,970,802 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 106,772 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 15,021 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 634 lb.

Mercury

The 2012 NRDC report, Poisoning the Great Lakes: 25 Coal-fired Power Plants Responsible for Half the Region's Mercury Pollution, found that 25 coal-fired power plants account for more than half of the mercury pollution emitted by the total of 144 electricity generation facilities in the Great Lakes region, and that almost 90 percent of the toxic emissions could be eliminated with available technologies. Over 13,000 pounds of mercury was emitted by the 144 coal plants into the air in 2010.

The coal-fired power plants with the highest mercury emissions are: Shawville Generating Station (Clearfield County, PA); Monroe Power Plant (Monroe County, MI); Homer City Generating Station (Indiana County, PA); Cardinal Plant (Jefferson County, OH); and Sherburne County Plant (Sherburne County, MN). A dozen power plants in Ohio and Indiana -- owned in whole or part by American Electric Power -- accounted for 19 percent of all mercury emitted in 2010 in the region.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Homer City

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[5] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[6]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Homer City Generating Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 43 $310,000,000
Heart attacks 72 $7,800,000
Asthma attacks 660 $34,000
Hospital admissions 33 $770,000
Chronic bronchitis 25 $11,000,000
Asthma ER visits 30 $11,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed March 2011

EPA Violations

According to New York Times compilation of 2009 EPA data the plant has violated the Clean Water Act 109 times without paying any fines.

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. "United States Files Clean Air Act Complaint Against Homer City Power Plant " Bonnie Smith, U.S. EPA, January 6, 2011.
  2. "NJ sues Pa. coal plant" Wall Street Journal, Feb. 11, 2011.
  3. "Edison unit can't finance Pa. Homer City coal plant upgrade," Reuters, March 2, 2012.
  4. "Sierra Club Statement on Pennsylvania Approval for Homer City Pollution Control," Sierra Club, April 3, 2012.
  5. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  6. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

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