Cleaner air ahead for Ameren Missouri?
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
An interesting bit of news from Ameren Corp.'s earnings conference call this morning: In discussing its five-year capital budget, the company announced that it's planning to install scrubbers at two of its coal-fired generating units in Missouri by late-2015.
Scrubbers refer to pollution-control equipment that strips sulfur dioxide from coal plant emissions. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is one of the major air pollutants released when coal is burned, and is linked to an array of respiratory diseases. Just last week, the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project noted that SO2 emissions in the U.S. are down significantly over the past decade. But they're up 6 percent in Missouri -- one of just four states where that's the case. And Missouri is just one of two major coal-burning states where SO2 pollution has gotten worse.
New regulations being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency will require deep cuts in SO2 emissions in 28 states, including Missouri and Illinois -- the reason why Ameren is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new pollution controls at its coal plants.
Last year, Ameren Missouri completed a $600 million scrubber at its Sioux power plant in St. Charles County.
This morning, the utility said the scrubbers are planned for two units at its Rush Island or Labadie plants, but didn't specify beyond that.
A good guess would be the 2,400-megawatt Labadie plant on the Missouri River -- the state's largest coal-fueled power plant.
As the Post-Dispatch noted in a story last year, Ameren is involved in a dispute with Union Pacific over rail service to Labadie. In a Nov. 22 complaint to the Surface Transportation Board, the utility said it was planning to install scrubbers at the plant in the "near future."
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