WMS to issue bonds for EPA suit

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – After pledging to install environmentally friendly equipment in its power plant in a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wyandotte Municipal Services is issuing bonds to help cover the $10 million cost of the updates.

Wyandotte Municipal Services Monday announced its intent to sell $12 million in revenue bonds to help pay for the updates, which include low-nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide burners and a new baghouse on one of the plant’s boilers within three years. A baghouse uses cloth to filter dust particles from gasses.

The city must publish a notice regarding the bonds in local newspapers, after which there will be a 45-day period for voters to petition for referendum.

WMS General Manager Melanie McCoy said the department built the payment of the bonds into its rate projection. It recently raised electricity rates for residential customers.

“We knew this was coming for the past several years,” McCoy said. “We’ve been working on this consent decree, so we had built it into our rate projection.”

Councilman Daniel Galeski raised concerns that the bonds would continue to force future rate increases.

McCoy said WMS could not guarantee no further rate increases but forgoing the bonds would force WMS not to install the updates, which would in turn force them to shut down the boiler in question.

“That would seriously cripple the power plant and BASF in turn,” McCoy said. “We can buy power, but we can’t buy steam from the rest of the world.”

“If we don’t make the decision to do this, we’ll be out of the power business,” Councilman James DeSana said. “This would just be the first step.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint and consent decree May 18, citing the city’s power plant’s violation of the Clean Air Act since 1997.

The resolution came after years of negotiations following a 2007 notice of violation. The decree also calls for a fine of $112,000.