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State Settles Air Pollution Lawsuit Against Three Electric Utilities


MADISON -The state has settled a lawsuit against three Wisconsin electric utilities for violations of state air pollution control laws with respect to renewal of the permit authorizing them to operate the Columbia Generating Station.


According to the complaint, filed at the request of the DNR, Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WP&L), which operates the facility it co-owns with Madison Gas and Electric Company and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, failed to timely apply for reissuance of the facility's operating permit, which expired on March 7, 2008. As a result, the facility has been operating without a permit, and will continue to do so until DNR completes action on the late renewal application, which is pending.


"The state's air quality is protected by a permitting process that controls pollution while enabling business activity," Van Hollen said. "For the permitting process to work, they must be kept up to date. Operating without a valid permit is unlawful, and the Department of Justice will work with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure that violations of law are appropriately addressed, as we have done in this case."


Under the terms of the settlement agreement, WP&L will pay penalties, fees, and costs totaling $285,000 for the violations. It will also continue to comply with the recently expired air operation permit for the facility until a renewed operation permit is issued, and has consented to inclusion in the new permit of a requirement that it implement an environmental management system "to improve its current system to better address environmental compliance matters, including but not limited to permit reissuance requirements."


Assistant Attorney General Shari Eggleson prosecuted the case. The settlement was approved by Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Alan J. White.