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National Parks Conservation Ass'n, Inc. v. Tennessee Valley Auth.

Citation: 40 ELR 20111
No. No. 3:01-cv-71, (E.D. Tenn., 03/31/2010)

A district court entered judgment for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with respect to environmental groups’ claims that the TVA violated the CAA and the Tennessee SIP in its operation of a fossil fuel-fired electricity generating facility. The groups argued that two projects, the economizer replacement and the superheater replacement, constituted “major modifications” and, as a result, the TVA was liable for failing to comply with the PSD requirements applicable to such major modifications. The court disagreed, holding that the projects fell within the routine maintenance, repair, and replacement exception. First, considering the nature and extent of the projects, the projects, although not small, were not extraordinary tasks. Second, the purpose of the projects was to reduce the number of forced outages resulting from boiler tube leaks in the economizer and secondary superheater; any “life extension” effected as a result of the projects was thus a byproduct of, rather than the primary purpose of, the replacements. Third, the replacements were common in the industry and not unusual at the facility. Finally, the cost of the projects was not uncommonly high. Since the projects were classified as a capital expenditure, the relevant comparison is to other capital projects. Compared with that category of projects, the replacements were unremarkable. Indeed, the actual cost of these projects was a small fraction of the TVA ’s $300 million annual capital budget.

[A prior decision in this litigation can be found at 39 ELR 20084.]