City of Virginia’s utilities department required to demonstrate heating plant emissions compliance

Contact: Anne Moore, 218-302-6605

People in the city of Virginia are breathing a little easier these days. That’s because the city’s district heating plant is now compliant after violating its state-issued air quality permit 20 times during the past four years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced today.

The heating plant exceeded its permit limits for carbon monoxide, opacity (a measure of visibility) and fine particles. It also failed to correctly operate its emission control equipment.  As a result, the city agreed to pay a $27,500 penalty to the MPCA and complete six required actions involving re-testing the emissions control equipment, submitting a compliance plan and a permit amendment related to facility operations. Four of the six requirements have already been completed. 

The city’s district heating plant, located at 618 2nd street South, has four boilers that assist in electricity and steam production that heat downtown buildings.

Stipulation agreements are one tool that the MPCA uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws.  When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first time or repeat violation and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

For more information about MPCA regulatory activities, visit the agency's Enforcement webpage.