Tampa Electric Company (TECO) Clean Air Act (CAA) Settlement
The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to a settlement of a major Clean Air Act enforcement action against the Tampa Electric Company (TECO) that requires the company to significantly reduce harmful air pollution from its power plants. This agreement is the first to result from a national enforcement action aimed at cutting emissions from coal-fired power plants.
In November 1999, the government charged that Tampa Electric Company and six other utilities violated the law at their power plants by making major modifications to the plants without installing equipment required to control smog, acid rain and soot. The settlement filed today in U.S. District Court in Tampa is unprecedented in its scope, and it marks a major step in the government's ongoing initiative to stop pollution illegally released from coal-fired power plants.
The settlement requires Tampa Electric to pay a $3.5 million civil penalty. Under the agreement, Tampa Electric will install permanent emissions-control equipment to meet stringent pollution limits; implement a series of interim pollution-reduction measures to reduce emissions while the permanent controls are designed and installed; and retire pollution emission allowances that Tampa Electric or others could use, or sell to others, to emit additional pollution into the environment. The settlement also requires the company to spend between $10 and $11 million on environmentally beneficial projects in the region designed to mitigate the impact of emissions from the company's plants.
So that Tampa Electric may accomplish these important environmental improvements and continue supplying energy to its customers, the settlement provides significant flexibility for the company. The work called for is phased in over a ten-year period. The settlement also accounts for any emergency conditions that might require extra generation of electricity by the company, and the settlement provides options for how Tampa Electric will meet its environmental obligations if business conditions call for restoring electric generating capacity at Gannon or Big Bend that the company may decide to shut down.
None of the settlement requirements is conditioned on whether or not Florida law allows the company to pass the costs of the compliance on to its customers. The settlement is the first to result from seven lawsuits filed last November. The United States also brought actions against American Electric Power, FirstEnergy, Illinois Power, Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company, Cinergy, and the Southern Company. By filing these unprecedented lawsuits, the United States aims to reduce dramatically the amount of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter that coal-fired power plants release into the atmosphere.
The lawsuits assert that these power plants have illegally released massive amounts of air pollutants, contributing to some of the most severe environmental problems facing the nation today. For years, the plants have operated without the best available emissions-control technology. This enforcement initiative targeted a total of 17 coal-fired power plants located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
For additional information, contact:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2242A)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460-0001