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Rockville Centre to pay $110G as part of deal with EPA to clean up power plant

Federal prosecutors and the Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement Thursday with the Village of Rockville Centre to upgrade a soot-belching power plant after filing a lawsuit that charged the facility violated Clean Air Act mandates.

A consent agreement reached as part of the settlement requires the village to pay a civil penalty of $110,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced Thursday. 

Rockville Centre, which operates one of three municipal electric utilities on Long Island, also agreed to retire three high-emission engines and institute new practices and technologies to reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions from the 33-megawatt plant, which operates chiefly during peak summer demand periods, prosecutors said.

In a written statement, Eli Eilbott, an outside attorney for Rockville Centre, said the village was “pleased with the final terms and conditions of the settlement, under which the village does not admit any of the allegations set forth in the complaint.”

He confirmed the village agreed to implement “various measures to improve the performance of its power plant and increase the amount of power it can import from the interstate power grid, which in turn is expected to reduce the need to run the power plant to meet customer electricity demand.”

The suit, filed in federal court in Central Islip, charges that Rockville Centre has operated the plant in excess of Clean Air Act mandates since at least 2009. Prior federal intervention led the plant in 2018 to come into compliance with some of those 1970-era rules, the suit charges, but “the village continues to violate the nitrogen oxide limits.” The most recent agreement requires the village to come into full compliance by Dec. 31, 2021.

“Emission limits on particulate matter and nitrogen oxides exist to help reduce conditions that lead to the formation of dangerous soot and smog,” EPA regional administrator Peter Lopez said in a statement.

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