Indeck receives air emissions permit from EGLE

Published 11:36 am Friday, September 29, 2023

NILES — Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy officials announced Thursday that they have granted an air emissions permit to Indeck Energy Services for their Niles natural gas power plant.

Indeck earlier this year asked EGLE for an amendment to their existing air emissions permit to better reflect the equipment actually installed at the power plant. As they noted in their application and as EGLE officials confirmed, the changes they proposed would actually lower the current permitted emissions limits.

A public comment period on Indeck’s request was held from late July through Sept. 11. A public hearing was also requested and was held virtually on Sept. 6 with six members of the public attending.

EGLE Air Quality Division Director Annette Switzer indicated in a letter to interested parties Thursday that EGLE received a total of 11 written comments during the comment period and no verbal comments during the public hearing.

She stated that she approved the Indeck permit application and made no changes after reviewing all the comments submitted. Her department found that the Indeck plant did not contribute to any further deterioration of the air quality in the area and actually lowered the emissions of a number of pollutants.

Public comments addressed by EGLE officials primarily questioned how the agency monitors operations at the Indeck plant. People asked what conditions require Indeck to test turbines and if EGLE is present for the tests, if equipment is tested after major maintenance and whether EGLE conducts unannounced emissions testing.

They also asked how long Indeck has to correct the situation if emissions are out of compliance and how will the public know, why Indeck is allowed to operate at peak times rather than continuously and how the public can check to make sure the plant meets its environmental responsibilities.

“Just because a factory says they will protect the environment doesn’t mean they will do so,” one commenter said. “Niles just had the problem with noise pollution at that gas electric plant. I hope you will keep a very close eye on the Niles area for mishaps that may occur with this plant or any other plant that may come into the area. Our natural resources are too valuable to pollute with things that we can’t get rid of in anyone’s lifetime.”

“The AQD (Air Quality Division) is responsible for assuring compliance with the Clean Air Act, Public Act 451, and the rules and regulations promulgated under Act 451,” EGLE officials responsed. ”The AQD takes this responsibility very seriously and endeavors to ensure that every facility subject to these air regulations is in full compliance with them.”

EGLE officials noted that their oversight includes “an ongoing presence of diligent oversight to include scheduled inspections, routine visits, response to citizen complaints, the review of company records, and issuing violation notices and escalated enforcement, if necessary. No violation is allowed to go unresolved.”

One person also brought up noise concerns which EGLE officials said was not in their purview. Numerous residents around the plant complained about noise from the plant earlier this year which led Niles city officials to pressure Indeck to correct the problem.

EGLE officials noted that they did receive one comment in support of the Indeck permit although their final decision did not take that comment into consideration. “A commenter stated that Indeck has been a valued partner to the community and responsive to city concerns,” officials wrote.