Department of Ecology News Release - April 26, 2010

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State, TransAlta agree to formal talks on major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plant

OLYMPIA – The State of Washington and the owner of a Centralia-area coal-fired power plant will enter formal talks aimed at significantly cutting the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions and developing cleaner replacement energy.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, the Washington Department of Ecology and TransAlta officials have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines the process the state and the company will follow. Talks include representatives of Canada-based TransAlta, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Governor’s Office, the Washington Attorney General’s Office, and the Washington Department of Commerce.

Reducing emissions from TransAlta’s Centralia plant — the largest single source of greenhouse gases in the state – is a key piece of the Governor’s May 2009 Executive Order on Climate Change. The Executive Order calls for the TransAlta plant’s greenhouse gas emissions to be cut in half by no later than Dec. 31, 2025.

“We’re optimistic that the state and TransAlta can put together a proposal that will ensure significant reductions in the Centralia plant’s emissions and protect Washingtonians’ health, environment and economy. Any such proposal also should provide the company with the predictability it needs for its future operations and for its shareholders,” said Stuart Clark, Ecology’s Air Quality Program manager. Clark is leading the state’s negotiating team.

“Today’s announcement underscores TransAlta’s commitment to providing clean, affordable energy to Washington residents. Since TransAlta acquired the Centralia plant in 2000, we’ve worked closely with the state to reduce the plant’s environmental impact, investing more than $300 million into pollution controls and securing significant reductions in emissions,” said Dawn Farrell, chief operating officer of TransAlta. “The MOU represents a commitment by our team to working with Gov. Gregoire and the state to seek an agreement that would even further reduce emissions while balancing the needs of different stakeholders.”

The memorandum outlines the negotiation process and principles. In general, it says:

An agreement would be designed to address several issues of vital interest to Washingtonians. They include:

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State media contact: Seth Preston, Ecology Air Quality Program communications manager, 360-407-6848; 360-584-5744 cell; Seth.Preston@ecy.wa.gov

TransAlta media contact: Marcy McAuley, Community & Stakeholder Relations Manager, 403-267-3639; 403-605-7435 cell; Marcy_McAuley@transalta.com

Governor’s May 2009 Executive Order on Climate Change: www.ecy.wa.gov/climatechange/2009EO.htm