The startup of the first scrubber is a significant achievement in an emissions control construction program that began 10 years ago and cost $1.7 billion, said Steve Kurmas, president, Detroit Edison. This investment will make a significant improvement to air quality in the region, support the long-term operation of the Monroe Power Plant and benefit the community with 40 new, full-time jobs to operate and maintain the scrubbers.

Additionally to construction of the two scrubbers, the plant’s emissions control program also consists of construction of selective catalytic reductions (SCR)systems on three of the plant’s four generating units. The SCR provide 90% nitrogen oxide (NOx) reduction per unit.

On the two units where both SCRs and scrubbers will be operating, mercury emissions will be lessened by 80% to 90% due to the interaction of both systems.

The systems will facilitate the Monroe Power Plant meet current and expected reductions in federal and state emissions limits. Even though we don’t know exactly what emissions limits we will be required to meet, we felt it was in the best interest of our company, our customers and the environment to build these emissions control systems over the last 10 years so that they are in place and operational today, said Skiles Boyd, DTE Energy vice president, environmental management and resources. And because we expect ever-stricter controls in the future, we are planning now how best to reduce emissions even further.

Kurmas said engineering work is in progress for construction of the third and fourth scrubbers and the fourth SCR. Some site work for those systems is anticipated to commence next year.

Monroe power plant director, Frank Wszelaki, said that the construction of the scrubber has changed appearance of the plant. To support scrubber operation, a new 580-foot tall chimney was constructed. Not only does that add a third chimney to the plant’s profile, the scrubber system also produces a constant white cloud of water vapor from that chimney, he said, adding that the original 800-foot chimneys were designed for a dry exhaust that was barely visible. While there is no timetable established, both of the plant’s original chimneys will be removed.