DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — MidAmerican Energy Co. said Tuesday it agreed to stop burning coal in seven power plant boilers in Iowa and limit emissions from two others as part of a settlement with an environmental group.
The Sierra Club filed a notice last July informing MidAmerican it was violating the federal Clean Air Act and Iowa environmental regulations by emitting more pollution than permits allowed at power plants in Sergeant Bluff, Bettendorf and Council Bluffs.
Sierra Club threatened to sue, prompting MidAmerican to negotiate an agreement. On Tuesday, an official complaint and a settlement agreement were filed in U.S. District Court outlining the deal.
The energy company said it agreed to settle the Sierra Club complaint to avoid a costly lawsuit.
"MidAmerican Energy entered into settlement discussions as a means to avoid costs to its customers, unnecessary delays, and ongoing uncertainty associated with litigation," the company said in a statement.
MidAmerican agreed to stop burning coal in two boilers at Council Bluffs and two boilers in Sergeant Bluffs by April 2016. The company said it also will convert three coal-fired boilers at its Bettendorf facility to natural gas. It is evaluating whether to convert the coal units at Sergeant Bluff and Council Bluffs to natural gas before the 2016 deadline.
The company said installation of an environmental cleaning system is under way at two other boilers in Sergeant Bluffs, projects that had started before the Sierra Club complaint. Installation on one boiler will be completed by this fall and the other by the spring of 2014. Equipment to reduce emissions and pollution has already been installed at the other two boilers at Council Bluffs.
The Sierra Club, which has pursued similar cases against other power generators burning coal in the United States, claims coal plant emissions cause health problems for residents living near the plants.