The Madison City Commission reviewed a letter on Monday night explaining the Environmental Protection Agency's position on retrofitting the diesel engines at the municipal generation plant -- a position that offered little assistance in allowing the city to avoid installing emission controls to the plant that was constructed to provide backup emergency power.
Basin Electric Cooperative currently makes payments to the city to pay for its construction and maintenance operations because the utility wants to have the plant available to provide peak power for the cooperative during heavy electricity-use periods.
The contract between Basin Electric and Madison also allows the city to run the generators for up to 500 hours each year for any purpose. The city typically does not operate the plant except for maintenance purposes so Madison has never used the option available in the contract. However, EPA officials have decided that the use clause means that the diesel engines at the municipal generation plant do not qualify as emergency equipment.
Sen. Tim Johnson's staff provided the commissioners with a copy of the EPA's letter which said that the city could have the diesel engines qualify as emergency equipment if the contract between Basin Electric and the city was rewritten.
Mayor Roy Lindsay said that city officials weren't interested in renegotiating the contract with the cooperative since Basin Electric is currently paying for the construction and operation of the generation plant.