Xcel Energy Sues EPA Over Emission Regulation

Xcel says that a new federal regulation that is supposed to reduce coal-fired power plant emissions does not give the company enough credit for emissions it has already reduced at two plants in the Twin Cities.

Xcel Energy is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a new rule that sets limits on coal-fired power plant emissions, according to a Pioneer Press report.

Minneapolis-based Xcel reportedly claims that the EPA's new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule-that was issued July 6 and will take effect in 2012- doesn't give the company enough credit for improvements it made when it converted two coal-fired power plants-High Bridge Generating Plant in St. Paul and Riverside Plant in Minneapolis-to clean-burning natural gas a few years ago.

The company filed the lawsuit Friday with the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the Pioneer Press. At the same time, Xcel reportedly petitioned the EPA to reconsider the way it calculates allowable emissions for Xcel's power plants under the new rule.

Mike Bull, Xcel's manager of environmental policy, told the St. Paul newspaper that if the the EPA calculation is allowed to stand as is, Xcel could end up paying for a second set of emission-reducing improvements down the road.

Under the new rule, which covers sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, the EPA can give out emission allowances to energy companies for each of their power plants based on their type and history of emissions, according to the Pioneer Press report. If a company cuts emissions at one plant, it can take its unused allowance to balance out emissions at another plant.

Xcel reportedly claims that the allowances the rule grants to the two plants in St. Paul and Minneapolis are too small-and that the upgrades reduced sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions at each plant by 95 percent.

The EPA reportedly said that it will review the lawsuit before it responds.

To read more about Xcel Energy's take on the new EPA regulation in the Pioneer Press, click here.