Utility deal to clean air reaches $1.2 billion

JOHN HEILPRIN; The Associated Press
Tacoma News Tribune

WASHINGTON - In the largest settlement ever with a utility under the nation's clean air laws, Dominion Virginia Power Co. is agreeing to spend $1.2 billion to reduce pollution at eight power plants in Virginia and West Virginia and to pay a $5.3 million federal fine.

One of the nation's largest energy producers, Richmond, Va.-based Dominion will be required to install state-of-the-art emissions controls by 2013 at six coal-fired plants in Virginia and two in West Virginia.

The pollution scrubbers are expected to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by about two-thirds from 2000 levels. Dominion will also be required to cut particulate emissions, which contribute to asthma and other respiratory ailments.

"These settlement efforts demonstrate both this administration's firm commitment to fully enforcing our environmental laws and the power of working together to improve our quality of life," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman said Friday.

Dominion also is agreeing to spend about $14 million for environmental projects in five states.

The projects include $2.7 million for retrofitting diesel engines in New Jersey transit commuter buses going into New York City, $2.1 million for mounting solar panels on public buildings in New York, $2 million for West Virginia to protect land in the Cheat River Gorge and $1 million for the purchase of hybrid vehicles in Shenandoah National Park.

The settlement concludes an agreement in principle reached between the company and the government in 2000 - and represents the fourth such federal settlement with utilities so far under the "new source review" provisions of the Clean Air Act.


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