For Immediate Release - June 30, 2011


Mt. Tom Station Must Pay Penalty, Reduce Emissions and Constantly Monitor Levels

BOSTON - Mt. Tom Station in Holyoke will become the first coal-fueled power plant in Massachusetts to constantly monitor emissions levels as part of a settlement over allegations the plant repeatedly exceeded emissions limits over the last several years, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced today. The plant is owned by Mt. Tom Generating Company and FirstLight Power Resources.

The settlement requires Mt. Tom to meet substantially reduced emissions limits for particulate matter and install a continuous emissions monitoring system to measure compliance with those limits. Mt. Tom must pay a $25,000 penalty to the Commonwealth. The company will also contribute $70,000 to fund a program to educate owners of old wood stoves and wood-fired boilers in the greater Holyoke area to encourage upgrading to equipment meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards.

"Particulate matter is responsible for a wide range of effects on health, including heart disease, lung damage and an increased risk of lung cancer," said AG Coakley. "While our economy needs power to function, we cannot sacrifice the well-being of our residents. This settlement will help ensure the plant no longer exceeds permit limits."

The settlement resolves claims by MassDEP that Mt. Tom violated its emissions limits on multiple occasions in 2009 and 2010. The allegations followed claims by the Conservation Law Foundation that Mt. Tom violated emissions limits thousands of times between 2005 and 2010. New equipment, including a Turbosorp system, was installed in 2007-09 to address the problem. While levels were reduced, the facility reported exceeding permit levels even after that equipment was up and running. The settlement includes provisions requiring Mt. Tom to hire independent consultants to assist in eliminating these ongoing exceedances.

"This settlement will ensure that Mt. Tom is held to significantly more stringent emissions limitations, and that it will install and maintain equipment that will continuously monitor those emissions so that the plant remains in compliance with our strict limits," said Commissioner Kimmell. "The funding to replace old wood stoves and wood-fired boilers will further help to reduce the concentration of airborne particulates, thereby improving the air quality in western Massachusetts."

The case was handled for the Attorney General's office by Assistant Attorney General William L. Pardee. For MassDEP, the matter was handled by Chief Regional Counsel Jane Rothchild, Regional Director Michael Gorski, Air Permitting Section Chief Marc Simpson, and Regional Engineer David Howland, all from MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield.