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September 10, 2013
Emergency engine rules to be reconsidered

The EPA recently agreed to reconsider three requirements in the Agency’s January 2013 amendments to air quality rules affecting reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE).  In response to requests from environmental groups and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the EPA will reconsider two requirements affecting compliance dates for engines reserved for emergency situations. 

Also, in response to petitions from the Clean Air Council and two energy companies, the Agency agreed to reconsider the type of nonemergency situations during which emergency engines may be dispatched.  In each case, the EPA says it is granting the petitions because they involve issues on which the public did not have the opportunity to comment.

Since 2004, the EPA has issued a number of rules to control emissions of hazardous air pollutants from engines used to generate electricity and power equipment at industrial, agricultural, and other facilities. The most recent major action was in 2010, when the Agency published National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) covering about 900,000 RICE nationwide. 

The January 2013 amendments covered a much small number of RICE and included limits on the hours that stationary emergency engines may be used for emergency demand response and fuel and reporting requirements for certain emergency engines used for emergency demand response. 

ULSD, reporting, and nonemergencies

The EPA has agreed to reconsider the following provisions in the amendments. 

  • Timing for compliance with the ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel requirement.  One amendment requires that certain emergency RICE use fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 15 parts per million beginning January 1, 2015.  Petitioners stated that ULSD is already widely available and is likely the only diesel fuel available in most areas.  They therefore requested that the requirement to use ULSD take effect beginning May 3, 2013.  According to the EPA, the additional time is necessary for some engines that will replace gaskets and seals to prevent fuel system leaks.
  • Timing and required information for reporting requirements.  Another amendment requires that owners/operators of certain engines annually report specific information beginning with operation during the 2015 calendar year (reportable in 2016).  Required information includes site rating of the engine, hours operated, and any deviation from the fuel requirements.  The Agency did not require reporting before 2015 because it needed additional time to develop an electronic reporting tool to send and receive the information and because it wanted to give facilities sufficient time to institute the infrastructure needed to record and compile the information in the correct format.  Petitioners asked that reporting begin with the 2013 calendar year or, alternatively, that the first report in 2016 includes information from 2013 and 2014 as well as from 2015.  They also requested that the type and amount of diesel fuel be reported.  The EPA says it does not believe that the petitioners have provided sufficient justification for either requested revision at this point. 
  • Criteria for operation for up to 50 hours per year for nonemergency situations.  A third amendment specifies that emergency engines can be used for up to 50 hours per calendar year in nonemergency situations to supply power as part of a financial arrangement with another entity if specific conditions are met.  One condition is when dispatch of the emergency engines is intended to mitigate local transmission and/or distribution limitations or to avert potential voltage collapse or line overloads that could lead to the interruption of power supply in a local area or region.   Petitioners that included Calpine and PSEG wrote that the conditions were too indistinct and expansive and would be difficult to enforce, leading to engines operating when there is no discernible threat to the grid.  The petitioners requested that the EPA more clearly delineate the situations to ensure that the engines are dispatched only during genuine grid emergencies.

EPA’s notice of reconsideration was published in the September 5, 2013, FR

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