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Judge orders shutdowns of plant units

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A federal judge in Indianapolis has ordered the shutdown of three units at a Terre Haute coal-fired power plant because of clean air violations committed almost two decades ago.

In his 58-page ruling issued late Friday afternoon, U.S. Judge Larry McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana ruled that Duke Energy - which bought out Cinergy Corp. in 2006 - has to close three units by Sept. 30.

This is the latest decision in the decade-old case of U.S., et al. v. Cinergy Corp., et al., 1:99-CV-1693, which involves issues surrounding parts of the Clean Air Act intended to make sure that older power plants that have major upgrades also meet more modern pollution limits with new permitting and emissions controls. A federal jury in a May 2008 liability trial found that Cinergy had violated the law at its Wabash plant, but cleared the company regarding modifications made at four other plants in Indiana and Ohio. A remedy trial earlier this year paved the way for this ruling from Judge McKinney.

Most of the plant's capacity is unaffected by the ruling, which calls for units 2, 3 and 5 to be closed down.  The remaining two Duke-owned units at the station will be unaffected. The change will remove about 39 percent of the station's overall 677-megawatt power-generating capacity by shutting down units that are more than 50 years old, according to Duke.

Judge McKinney accelerated a timetable proposed by Duke in February, ordering that the shutdown happen this year rather than 2012. His ruling also means the company won't have to install additional emissions reduction equipment on the two units staying open, that Duke will need to surrender money spent between May 2008 and September 2009, and that Duke will pay less in fines on the Beckjord plant near Cincinnati - $687,500 instead of $1.32 million.

"We are disappointed with the court's decision to accelerate the shutdown...," Duke Energy Chief Legal Officer Marc Manly said in a written statement. "But even though disappointed, I will reiterate our satisfaction that after 10 years of litigation, the company's position regarding power plant projects was vindicated in the vast majority of instances about which the government originally complained. We will continue to review the Court's ruling and evaluate our options."

This fits into a larger clean air violation puzzle ongoing in federal court. After last year's trial, Judge McKinney ordered a new trial be held on projects at three plants in Indiana and Ohio. That happened last month, and the jury found violations on two repair projects at the Gallagher plant in Floyd County and none at four other projects at the Gibson plant in southwest Indiana and the Beckjord plant in Ohio. A second remedy phase for these recent violations hasn't yet been scheduled.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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