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Monroe Power Plant

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Monroe Power Plant is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by DTE Energy near Monroe, Michigan.

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Detroit Edison
  • Parent Company: DTE Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 3,280 megawatts (MW)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 817 MW (1971), 823 MW (1973), 823 MW (1973), 817 MW (1974)
  • Location: 3500 East Front St., Monroe, MI 48161
  • GPS Coordinates: 41.892495, -83.351968
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Powder River Basin
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 17,401,929 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 103,570 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 31,809 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 780 lb.

Coal Waste Sites

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Monroe Power Plant

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.[1] 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.[2]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Monroe Power Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 280 $2,000,000,000
Heart attacks 440 $49,000,000
Asthma attacks 4,400 $230,000
Hospital admissions 200 $4,800,000
Chronic bronchitis 160 $73,000,000
Asthma ER visits 240 $90,000

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

New scrubbers operational at Monroe

Monroe Power Plant began operating two flue gas desulfurization systems, the first in June and the second in November 2009. DTE Energy said the scrubbers reduce Unit 3's sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 97 percent and mercury emissions by 80 to 90 percent. Unit 4 had similar reductions when the first FGD began operating. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology was also installed on three of the plant's generating units, reportedly reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90 percent. Two more scrubbers and a fourth SCR will be installed at the plant.[3]

August 2010: EPA sues DTE over plant modifications

On August 5, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sued DTE Energy, seeking to halt an expansion to a coal-fired electric plant that the government says will worsen air pollution in Michigan. The lawsuit alleges DTE made major modifications in March 2010 to Unit 2 at its Monroe Power Plant without first obtaining necessary approvals. The $30 million overhaul was made without installing, as required under the New Source Review requirements of the Clean Air Act, the best available technology to minimize emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides -- pollutants that harm human health by contributing to heart attacks, breathing problems, and other health problems, the suit alleges. The lawsuit alleges the Monroe plant is already the largest individual source of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in the state and "this modification resulted in significant net emission increases." The EPA is asking a federal judge to shut down the unit and halt further modifications until DTE complies with the Clean Air Act. It also asks for civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day.[4]

According to the non-profit Clean Air Task Force, DTE’s Monroe coal plant is responsible for more adverse health impacts than any other plant in the country — 278 deaths, 206 hospital admissions and 445 heart attacks. Monroe Unit 2 emitted 27,320 tons of sulfur dioxide, 8,205 tons of nitrogen oxide in 2009 and is the largest individual source of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the state, according to the EPA. The agency said DTE has predicted that by 2013, Monroe unit 2 will emit 33,816 tons of SO2 and 14,494 tons of NOx.[5]

December 2010: Monroe gets permit to burn more coal before GHG rules go into effect

On December 22, 2010, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment air quality division said it approved a permit that allows DTE to burn more coal and also petroleum coke at the Monroe plant. As part of the newly approved permit, DTE will install wet flue gas desulphurization and selective catalytic reduction systems — on the two of its four units that don’t have them. DTE spokesman John Austerberry said the company will have the pollution controls installed by late 2014.[5]

Shannon Fisk, an attorney for the National Resources Defense, which has joined EPA in the federal lawsuit against DTE over violating the New Source Review provisions when it upgraded its Unit 2, pointed out the MDNRE issued DTE’s permit just 8 days after the end of the public comment period regarding greenhouse gas emissions. If the permit remained under consideration until January, EPA’s new greenhouse gas permitting policy would have required an analysis of best available controls for reducing CO2 emissions, he said. This would have required DTE to look at the possibility of using natural gas for power or finding ways to improve energy efficiency.[5]

Emissions

Monroe ranked 5th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[6] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[7]

Monroe Power Plant ranked number 5 on the list, with 4,110,859 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[6]

Monroe ranked 7th in terms of largest carbon dioxide emissions

According to a 2009 report by Environment America, "America's Biggest Polluters," the Monroe Power Plant is the seventh dirtiest plant in the nation, releasing 20.6 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2007. Ranking is based upon Environmental Protection Agency data.[8]

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.

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  2. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  3. "Scrubbers reducing emissions at coal-fired plant," Power Engineering, November 16, 2009.
  4. Paul Egan, "EPA sues DTE Energy over coal-fired plant expansion" The Detroit News, August 5, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Eartha Jane Meizer, "DTE Energy gets coal plant permit on eve of new regulations" The Michigan Messenger, Dec. 23, 2010.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  7. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  8. "America's Biggest Polluters: Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants in 2007" Environment America, November 24, 2009

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