BENSON – June 7 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to review its Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) on regional haze controls for the Apache Generating Station at Cochise, Arizona, after a proposal by Arizona Electric Power Cooperative that could result in better improvements in air quality than are required under the FIP.

Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) owns the Apache Generating Station and has been working with the EPA to find a solution for reducing the emissions that contribute to ‘regional haze,’ or the impairment of views at national parks.

Arizona Congressman Ron Barber (D-Dist. 2) has been instrumental in the discussions between the EPA and AEPCO officials. He became involved shortly after the EPA first proposed a Federal Implementation Plan for regional haze on July 2, saying he wanted to find a solution that would help achieve the EPA’s aims of improving air quality, but was also financially feasible and wouldn’t put the Apache Generating Station or jobs in jeopardy.

“From the beginning Congressman Ron Barber has understood our unique challenges and has worked hard to make sure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency understands as well. He was instrumental in organizing a meeting with the EPA that lead to where we are today and has said all along he wants – just as we do – a win-win solution that meets our environmental responsibilities while taking into account the impacts on the people at the end of the line who use our power,” said Patrick Ledger, AEPCO CEO.

Barber toured the plant Dec. 14.  His efforts helped lead to a subsequent tour by members of Barber’s staff and Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator of EPA Region IX, on March 4.

On May 28, AEPCO submitted a supplement to its request for administrative reconsideration, proposing an alternative that results in better visibility improvements than the requirement under “Best Available Retrofit Technology” (BART) in EPA’s FIP. The proposal calls for:

  • Converting one of two coal units to gas
  • Installing ‘selective non-catalytic reduction’ technology  on the remaining coal unit;
  • Installing scrubber upgrades on the remaining coal unit;
  • Installing ‘low nitrogen-oxide’ (low NOx) burners on the remaining coal unit and the newly converted gas unit.

These measures proposed by AEPCO represent an approximate $30 million investment AEPCO is making in its ongoing commitment to be a good environmental steward, and study and analysis shows that overall, AEPCO’s proposal results in measurable visibility improvements in the Class 1 areas most directly affected by AEPCO.

 

The existing rule proposed by the EPA – which it will now reconsider – sets emission limits that would have required the installation of expensive new technology at the Apache Generating Station. The new technology would cost more than $192 million, leading to significant rate increases, possible layoffs, or eventual closure of the plant.

 

Arizona’s G&T Cooperatives

Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, Southwest Transmission Cooperative (SWTC) and Sierra Southwest Cooperative Services collectively make up Arizona’s G&T Cooperatives.

AEPCO owns and operates the 605 (combined gross) megawatt Apache Generating

Station at Cochise, Arizona, east of Benson.

SWTC owns and maintains more than 620 miles of transmission lines and 27 substations

that transmit wholesale power from the Apache Generating Station to six Member Distribution

Cooperatives in southern Arizona, northwestern Arizona in Bullhead City and Mohave County,

and Anza in California.

Combined, the Distribution Cooperatives that receive AEPCO’s wholesale power serve

more than 147,000 residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial customers.

The six Class A Member Cooperatives that receive wholesale power from AEPCO

include five in Arizona; Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Willcox, Duncan Valley

Electric Cooperative in Duncan, Graham County Electric Cooperative in Pima, Trico Electric

Cooperative in Marana, Mohave Electric Cooperative in Bullhead City, and the California

member, Anza Electric Cooperative in Anza. These member cooperatives own the Arizona’s G&T Cooperatives and by extension, the G&T Cooperatives are owned by their members, the people at the end of the line who use the power.

The cooperatives are also Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a federal agency, borrowers.

The G&Ts and its member cooperatives are not-for-profit utilities.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Geoff Oldfather, Communications and Public Relations Manager

(520) 586-5465, C: (520) 444-3473. goldfather@ssw.coop

Visit our website at www.azgt.coop