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Jun 11, 2013 1:28 AM by Q2 News

PPL & State sign agreement to upgrade Corette Power Plant

BILLINGS - An agreement Monday between PPL Montana and the State Department of Environmental Quality will mean less SO2 emissions in the Yellowstone Valley in the future, but does not mean PPL has a change of plans for its aging Corette Power Plant here in Billings.

The legal agreement calls for PPL to install $10 million dollars of new pollution controls at its Billings coal-fired power plant.

This is so it can comply with state ambient air standards that include tighter controls on S02 emissions.

But David Hoffman, PPL's governmental affairs director, says it's highly unlikely that the company will alter it's decision to mothball the Corette Plant.

"There would have to be some pretty radical changes in the economic environment in order to reverse that mothballing decision," said Hoffman.

"But if it was reversed, this settlement then goes to the S02 emissions in Yellowstone County, and would certainly reduce the amount of S02 put into the atmosphere," explained Hoffman.

Last fall, PPL announced plans to mothball the Corette Plant beginning in April of 20-15, due to the cost of meeting new EPA air quality standards.

Monday's agreement with the state, means PPL would have to invest as much as $50 million dollars in the 45 year old plant in order to meet both state and federal pollution requirements.

As part of the agreement, PPL also agreed to pay the state a $250,000 penalty for past violations of state air quality standards.

Among those reacting to the settlement, was the Northern Plains Resource Council.

The citizens group has long fought for tougher air and water quality standards in Montana.

Eileen Morris, a volunteer with the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council, and a life long Billings resident, says it's too bad the Corette Plant wasn't cleaned up years ago.

"People like me who have suffered from asthma, would have had it a little bit easier over the years, and my friend Nettie who died of an asthma attack due to S02, perhaps it would have saved her life," Morris said.

Morris recalled when she first got involved with the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council in 1979, Billing was rated third *worst city in the nation" for SO2 pollution.

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