CEDAR FALLS | Cedar Falls Utilities has a won a seven-year fight over a pollution control project, but the battle may not be over.
In 2007, CFU hired Miron Construction of Wisconsin to build a $3.3 million addition to the coal-fired Streeter Station. The project was designed to filter particulate matter to meet new Environmental Protection Agency standards.
However, the utility claimed a subcontractor, Dustex, botched specifications for a key component, according to arbitration records.
CFU officials said that meant they cannot operate the plant at its maximum capacity because filters wouldn't be able to keep up.
Last month, a panel of arbitrators agreed with CFU, awarding the utility $3.4 million plus costs and interest. The decision was against Miron and CNA Surety, the project’s insurance carrier.
Attorneys for CFU have asked the court to confirm the award plus interest and attorney fees, and the matter moved to U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids.
Officials with Miron and CNA have until February to ask the court to vacate or modify the award, and they have indicated in court records that is their intent.
The crux of the dispute centered on the addition's baghouse, a filtering system that would be responsible for removing 98.9 percent of particulate matter from air leaving the power plant. It the past, the plant’s filtering system had collected about 93 percent.
The contract called for a system that would handle a gas flow rate of 93,000 cubic feet per minute. This rate was to be maintained while one of the four filtering components was down for maintenance, according to arbitration records. Instead, Dustex came up with a system that only allows 80,000 cubic feet per second, records state.
“If we took it up to its maximum rated capacity, the filtration and the baghouse doesn’t support that like it’s supposed to,” said Betty Zeman, public information officer for CFU. “If you’re going to turn on that unit and run it, you want to run it most efficiently, and that is at or near the top of its capacity.”
Arbitration began in 2009 and culminated in hearings in January, April and August.
CFU officials said the plant meets air quality regulations.
“There are no air quality compliance issues because we run the plant in a way that makes sure we aren’t of compliance,” Zeman said.