TAMPA, November 4, 1999
The U.S. Justice Department filed lawsuits yesterday to recover what the Environmental Protection Agency said could be more than $1 billion in damages against seven U.S. Midwest and Southern utilities, including Tampa Electric. The lawsuits said the companies named failed to install sufficient pollution control devices at their coal-fired plants.
Here is the company's response:
We are surprised by EPA's actions yesterday for a number of reasons. First, at Tampa Electric, we comply with all environmental rules and regulations, including the Clean Air Act Amendments.
In addition, we have made good-faith efforts to reduce emissions from our power plants even further.
Secondly, we've been meeting with the EPA for some time and discussing a long-range environmental strategy to meet our customers' energy needs in a cost-effective, environmentally responsible way over the next 20 years, and were making a lot of headway on that approach.
We hope EPA's action will not change the productive dialogue that has been ongoing.
Looking at what we've done on the emissions front, we've nearly completed the installation of a new flue-gas desulfurization system at our Big Bend Station Units One and Two, our largest power plant, that will begin operating by the start of next year, and significantly reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.
Big Bend Units Three and Four already have scrubbers.
The project is designed to remove nearly 90 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions at Big Bend.
We also have an agreement in place with the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.
And we've built and operate a state-of-the-art, clean-coal power plant, the 250-megawatt Polk Power Station, with backing from the U.S. Department of Energy. This plant converts coal into a clean-burning gas, and reduces 90-95 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions.
We have an obligation to serve our half-a-million customers in West Central Florida in a reliable, cost-effective manner and as part of that we must maintain our power plants so that they can meet the growing energy needs of our customers.
To do that requires that we perform routine, preventive maintenance of our generating units so that they operate reliably and enable us to meet our customers' need for power.
It's much like a car, where you take it into the mechanic periodically for routine or regular maintenance or a tuneup so that it will continue to operate well.
The difference here, as we understand EPA's position on maintenance, is that when you take your 1990 car in for maintenance, it needs to leave the shop meeting 1999 emissions standards.
We believe all of the operations and maintenance at our generating facilities have been conducted in compliance with all provisions of existing laws and regulations.
We are working to resolve this issue with EPA, and will continue to address this matter with them.
For journalist inquiries only:
TECO Energy, Inc.
702 N. Franklin Street
Tampa, Florida 33602
Tampa Electric is an Emera company.
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