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Government sues Oklahoma utility over power plant upgrades

The federal government has sued Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., saying the utility didn't take out the necessary permits and failed to adequate estimate emissions for a series of upgrades at its Sooner and Muskogee coal plants from 2003 to 2006.
by Paul Monies Modified: July 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm •  Published: July 9, 2013

The federal government is accusing Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. of violating the Clean Air Act by failing to estimate the amount of harmful emissions that would come from improvements made at two of its coal-fired power plants.

OG&E did not seek necessary permits for more than $60 million in construction projects at the two plants, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Oklahoma City.

“OG&E performed numerous projects at its Muskogee and Sooner facilities without properly assessing the impact those projects would have on the plants' future emissions,” the lawsuit states. “The analyses performed by OG&E at the time are legally insufficient under the requirements of the CAA (Clean Air Act) and EPA's regulations.”

Coal plant modifications can lead to greater efficiencies, but they can also increase emissions of pollutants, the lawsuit states. OG&E undertook eight projects totaling $61 million at the two coal plants from 2003 to 2006.

OG&E was notified of the violation in April 2011, according to the lawsuit. The Justice Department sent a letter to the utility earlier this year offering to open settlement negotiations.

The government wants a federal judge to require OG&E to complete an emissions assessment and submit it to the EPA.

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