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Vote set on permits for power plant

City Council spent the bulk of its meeting Monday night discussing the proposed "clean-coal" power plant project.

Lawmakers are to vote Monday on a resolution concerning the permits for the $145 million project.

James Slack, senior program manager with the worldwide environmental and engineering company ENSR of Westford, Mass., provided information to the Council that will be part of the applications for permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. ENSR was hired by the Board of Public Utilities as a consultant on its project.

He said a study shows the boiler would cut sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by 90 percent per ton of kilowatt produced.

Slack said the coal-fired boiler would be more efficient than any of the current boilers at the Carlson Generating Station on Steele Street. He assured the Council that the emission-cutting goals could be achieved.

"That's why we want to make sure the permit reflects what is doable technology, so that the limit they set is something that they can meet. This also has to meet the best available controlled technology, and that's what we are proposing in this application," Slack said.

If those limits are not met, fines could be levied by the EPA or DEC.

"I can tell you that the design that we see for this project . . . will be in compliance with the state and federal regulations," he said.

BPU General Manager David Leathers told the Council about the coal-fired boiler's other benefits, including its ability to heat the school district's buildings with the steam produced, and the ability to use other fuel sources -- such as shredded tires and wood chips -- which could prove less expensive than coal.

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