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January 31, 2011 Published in EcoNews, Top Stories

GenOn, City Move Forward To Implement Settlement Agreement

By Carla Branch

Mirant Plant (Courtesy Photo)

In July, 2008, the City of Alexandria and Mirant, now GenOn, signed a settlement agreement ending all lawsuits over Mirant’s Potomac River Generating Station. As part of that settlement, Mirant agreed to spend $32 million to upgrade the coal-fired power plant on Alexandria’s waterfront to reduce fugitive dust emissions and generally improve air quality around the plant.

In December, 2010, Mirant and RRI Energy announced on December 3, 2010 that they have completed their merger to form GenOn Energy, Inc. (NYSE: GEN). GenOn is an independent power producer with 24,600 MW of electricity generating capacity. The merger had no impact on the settlement agreement.

Last year, GenOn met milestones in the fine particulate emission reduction project stipulated under the July 2008 City/ Mirant Settlement Agreement. They also completed the Phase I project on fugitive dust emissions reduction and implemented fugitive emissions control measures at the PRGS site. The Phase II engineering study, which recommended converting the cold electrostatic precipitator in the three base-load boilers to a pulsed jet fabric filter and to upgrade the control system of the two swing boilers.

City staff actively participated in the selection of a short list of potential bidders that will be invited to submit their firm-price proposals to implement the Phase II project. As a result, six EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) contractors were selected. Staff reviewed the draft bid package documents prepared by the Engineer Worley Parsons and provided comments to the project team. The Engineer revised this draft to take into account comments from the City and Mirant. This bid package was sent to six selected contractors on January 15, 2011.

To satisfy one provision in the City/Mirant agreement, Mirant installed a continuous ambient PM2.5 monitor on the roof of the Riverton Condominium in August 2009. Also, per the City's request, VDEQ installed an ambient PM2.5 monitor at the old Health Department on St Asaph Street in January 2010. The City compared the PM2.5 readings of the two instruments for the period January - August 2010 and indicated that:

• Compared to the 24-hour national ambient air standard for PM2.5 of 35 micrograms per standard cubic meter, the two instruments showed PM2.5 levels below this standard for the whole period except for one day (July 7) where the PM2.5 levels were recorded at 36.2 (St Asaph) and 35.0 (Riverton).

• Taking into account the different PM2.5 monitors used at these two locations, the readings at these two locations track each other well. The phase II project, once completed, will further reduce the PM2.5 emissions from this facility.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued a Notice Of Violation to Mirant PRGS on October 22, 2010, on two alleged violations: (i) the use of used oils collected in the facility for combustion in the boilers instead of the permitted distillate oil; and (ii) one shipment of coal had a reported ash content of 11.2% instead of the permitted limit of 11%. Subsequent discussion with VDEQ indicated that VDEQ is considering rolling this NOV into the same consent order that is being negotiated with Mirant on its previous three NOVs.

Staff continues to monitor PRGS weekly production and emissions data. The plant was not operated at all for four consecutive weeks from October 15 to November 11.

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