Guam Power Authority Faces Expensive Compliance Deadline

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Emission control upgrades may cost up to $600 million

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Jan. 11, 2013) – The Guam Power Authority (GPA) stands to lose from $400 to $600 million because of the impending compliance deadline coming up this May for the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) emission control regulations for diesel engine smokestacks.

To avoid any enforcement action, GPA has requested for an extension of the deadline to address the conditions set in the USEPA emission regulations.

Although the request has been forwarded to the federal agency, GPA General Manager Joaquin Flores said the power agency has yet to receive a formal reply.

The policy that will impact GPA’s power plants is USEPA’s National Emission Standards for RICE MACT, which applies to stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines.

According to USEPA, the federal regulations cover stationary equipment or plants, which emit or have the potential to emit 10 tons per year of a specific hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPs. Examples of these equipment are generators and smokestacks.

GPA currently has a lot of combined or individual smokestacks at specific power stations that will be impacted by the regulations. Flores cited several of these, including Tenjo, Talofofo, Maneggon Hills, Cabras 3 and 4, and MEC 8 and 9.

Flores said the emission that has been a challenge for GPA to meet is carbon monoxide. He said carbon monoxide uses a special system that controls the harmful emission, combines it with oxygen, and releases it as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

John J. Cruz Jr., of GPA’s Strategic Planning and Operations Research Division, said the regulations do not cover plant engines, only smokestacks. The engines, he said, require incorporating catalytic converters to transform carbon monoxide into cleaner emission.

No funds

To bring all of the units into compliance, GPA has to invest from $400 million to $600 million – funds which GPA does not currently have, Cruz said.

To avoid the compliance requirements, Flores stated, the power authority is considering converting Cabras 3 and 4 and MEC 8 and 9 to process liquefied natural gas, an investment that will only cost GPA around $250 million – less than half the amount it would take to comply with the USEPA ruling.

"But we still need to have that agreement with USEPA to extend the compliance schedule out until we finish the implementation and have LNG (liquefied natural gas) ready to burn on-island. That takes at least five to seven years. That’s the plan," Flores said.

Once an extension is granted, Flores said GPA will move to negotiate its compliance schedule to avoid enforcement action from USEPA.

"We are looking at many things. We already have an existing environmental consultant and we need legal expertise that can help us back in San Francisco to negotiate an administrative order for the compliance. We are doing this right now and we hope to have someone on board as soon as possible," he said.

Complying with the new regulations takes time, Flores stressed, and requires modifications and re-engineering of power plants.

"People have to come in to see how the designs can fit into these stacks. Those take time and we don’t have the time between now and this May to complete these requirements," Flores concluded.

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