By St. Louis Business Journal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sued Ameren Missouri, alleging the utility made major upgrades to its coal-fired power plant in Festus without installing modern pollution control equipment.

In the complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in St. Louis, the EPA asks the court to order Ameren to install and operate air pollution control technology to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions at its Rush Island plant. The United States also seeks civil penalties.

Ameren said the EPA requires that electric utilities undergo pre-construction review for environmental controls if the utilities propose to build new generating units or make modifications to existing units that result in a significant increase in emissions.

Ameren said, however, that such requirements do not apply to projects that constitute routine maintenance.

⿿Many of the cited projects were actually undertaken by Ameren Missouri to expand our efforts to reduce emissions,⿝ Ameren Missouri President and Chief Executive Warner Baxter said in a statement. ⿿We have cut emissions at every plant, significantly improving air quality in the region.⿝

The St. Louis-based utility said its overall emissions are trending down, not up, while customersâ¿¿ demand for electricity has increased by 50 percent since the 1990s. Ameren Missouri said it reduced its mass emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 61 percent and mass emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 75 percent between 1990 and 2009. Ameren also pointed out that it spent $600 million to install a scrubber at its coal-fired plant in Portage des Sioux north of St. Louis.

Ameren, which is part of St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. (NYSE: AEE), said resolving this litigation could take several years.

The EPA had issued a notice of violation against Amerenâ¿¿s Festus plant a year ago. Ameren said it is one of 60 U.S. electric utilities to receive such a notice since the 1990s and one of many that have faced such a lawsuit.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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