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In re Pio Pico Energy Center

Case Number:PSD Appeal Nos. 12-04, 12-05, & 12-06
ELR Citation:44 ELR 41366

Helping Hand Tools, Sierra Club, and Mr. Rob Simpson (“Petitioners”) each petition the Environmental Appeals Board (“Board”) to review a prevention of significant deterioration (“PSD”) permit (“Permit”) that Region 9 (“Region”) of the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued to the Pio Pico Energy Center (“Pio Pico”) pursuant to the Clean Air Act. The Permit authorizes Pio Pico to construct and operate a 300-megawatt natural gas-fired peaking and/or intermediate load-shaping power plant (“Facility”) in Otay Mesa, California.

The petitions challenge the Region’s issuance of, as well as several conditions in, the Permit. Collectively, Petitioners raise 11 issues for Board resolution. These include challenges to the Region’s acceptance of late comments; the adequacy of the Region’s responses to comments; the Region’s decision to eliminate combined-cycle gas turbines as a control technology in its best available control technology (“BACT”) analysis for greenhouse gases; the adequacy of the BACT emission limits the Region selected for greenhouse gases and for particulate matter (“PM”); the Region’s conclusion that carbon monoxide emissions from the Facility are not subject to the PSD program; the location of air quality monitors; and the Region’s decisions not to use emission reduction credits to mitigate air pollutants. In addition, two of the petitioners ask the Board to remand the Permit to the Region for a reassessment of the “need” for the Facility following a recent California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) decision denying the local utility the authority to enter into a long-term power purchase agreement with Pio Pico.

Held: The Board remands the permit in part and directs the Region to prepare a revised PM BACT analysis and reopen the public comment period to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on it. The Board denies review of all other challenges.