Wisconsin-based Dairyland Power Cooperative, which provides electricity to member distribution cooperatives and municipal utilities in four states, announced on Friday that it has reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Sierra Club. Here are the details.
* The Sierra Club filed a civil lawsuit against Dairyland in June 2010, alleging that the cooperative had violated the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act.
* The EPA made similar allegations against the cooperative when it filed a notice of violation in February of this year.
* New Source Review is a series of amendments to the Clean Air Act which were instituted in 1977 and require existing emission sources to undergo pre-construction environmental review and permitting for major modifications to existing facilities that would create a significant increase in pollutants, the cooperative explained.
* Dairyland admits no violations of law in the settlement, the cooperative reported, but a "long, drawn out legal battle would not be in the best financial interest of Dairyland's members," said Bill Berg, Dairyland President and CEO.
* According to Berg, the cooperative had already begun adding hundreds of millions of dollars of air emissions controls to its coal-fired facilities.
* The settlement requires limits on emissions and Dairyland must pay a civil penalty of $950,000.
* As per the settlement, the cooperative is also required to invest $5 million in the next five years to renewable energy, energy efficiency and public land improvement projects.
* Even before the EPA's 2012 notice of violation, the cooperative was in the midst of a $400 million plan to reduce air emissions at its generating facilities, Dairyland stated.
* According to the Wisconsin chapter of Sierra Club, a 2010 Benchmarking Report listed Dairyland Power Cooperative's facilities in its 100 Top Worst Coal Plants.
* In 2009, emissions of carbon dioxide from Dairyland's plants totaled 5,298,417 tons, Sierra Club stated.
* As part of the settlement, Dairyland also agreed to quit burning coal at its three oldest Alma Station generators. Operations with those three 1950s era generators ceased in December 2011.
* The three units generated about 60 megawatts of power, The Business Journal of Milwaukee reported in December, 2011. In 2011, they produced only four-tenths of 1 percent of the cooperative's energy.
* The shutdown of the units resulted in the loss of 12 jobs.
* Two units remain at the cooperative's Alma station, with a combined generating capacity of 120 megawatts.