Does Wyoming Regulate Natural Gas Generators?
Our Wyoming customers often ask: “Does Wyoming Regulate Natural Gas Generators?” The quick answer is yes; Wyoming natural gas generators are regulated. This article will help you understand how natural gas generators are regulated in Wyoming.
Emission Standards for Natural Gas Generators: EPA, CAA, and DEQ Regulations
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets federal minimum emissions standards for natural gas generators. While every state has the option to exceed EPA standards through legislation or regulations, no state may set standards less stringent than those promulgated by the EPA.
In order to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act (CAA) and to prevent the EPA from assuming permitting authority within Wyoming, the Wyoming legislature passed the Environmental Quality Act (EQA) after the passage of the CAA.
Wyoming statutes § 35-11-203 through § 35-11-212 establish Wyoming’s permit program and specify which sources are subject to Wyoming’s operating permit program.
If a source is subject solely to Wyoming’s operating permit program, it does not need a permit to construct prior to installation, but does need an operating program within the period specified by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Wyoming statute § 35-11-801 (c) deals with Wyoming’s permit to construct program, which requires a permit to construct before an emissions source can be installed. That statute posits, “A permit to construct is required before construction or modification of any industrial facility capable of causing or increasing air or water pollution in excess of standards established by the department is commenced.”
If a permit is knowingly violated, the violator is “subject to a penalty not to exceed ten thousand dollars for each violation for each day during which violation continues” (§ 35-11-901). The EQA established the Wyoming DEQ, which promulgates regulations to carry out the mission of the EQA.
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Standards for Natural Gas Generators
The DEQ’s Chapter 5 and 6 Regulations govern the permit program for natural gas generators. Chapter 5 adopts New Source Performance Standards promulgated by the EPA, in particular, 40 CFR Part 60 JJJJ, which sets performance standards for natural gas generators.
Chapter 6, Section 2 covers general air quality permitting requirements for construction and modification as well as minor source permits to operate for natural gas generators. Natural gas generators are required to obtain a permit to construct prior to installation.
Chapter 6, Section 2(a)(1) provides, “Any person who plans to construct any new facility or source, modify any existing facility or source, or to engage in the use of which may cause the issuance of or an increase in the issuance of air contaminants into the air of this state shall obtain a construction permit from the State of Wyoming, Department of Environmental Quality before any actual work is begun on the facility.”
The process for a permit to construct to be approved for a natural gas generator can take up to 90 days (Chapter 6, Section 2(g)). Not only are natural gas generators required to have a permit to construct and a permit to operate, but operators are also required to conduct an initial performance test on natural gas generators, despite the fact that the EPA does not require performance testing if a natural gas generator has the proper EPA certification (Chapter 6, Section 2(j)).
Most permits issued by the DEQ for natural gas generators require annual performance testing. Performance testing is conducted by a third-party (not the DEQ) and each test costs operators approximately $5,000.
Additionally, the DEQ regulates natural gas generators through the “Chapter 6, Section 2 Permitting Guidance,” which is a more detailed document regarding Chapter 6, Section 2 regulations. In regard to natural gas generators, this document provides that “no internal combustion generator engines may be installed under the Presumptive BACT process and that such engines shall be permitted prior to installation.”
Overall, Wyoming’s regulations governing the operation of natural gas generators are some of the most stringent in the United States, especially the permit to construct and performance test requirements.
Mesa Natural Gas’s Commitment to Improve Compliance Reporting and Testing of Natural Gas Generators
Currently, Mesa is working with the DEQ to find ways to reduce the stringent requirements placed on its engines (i.e., permit to construct and annual performance tests), as the emissions of Mesa’s natural gas generators are well below the emission standards promulgated by the DEQ.
Mesa is currently seeking a portable waiver permit which, if approved, would eliminate the 90 day wait period for each engine, instead allowing for immediate deployment of Mesa’s engines throughout Wyoming.
Due to technological advancements, Mesa has the capability to know when its engines are or are not in compliance. Therefore, Mesa is also seeking a solution with the DEQ to change the annual performance test requirement to a more reasonable compliance program based more on reporting than performance testing.
Overall, Mesa’s engines have never failed a performance test in Wyoming and are one of the cleanest and most advanced technologies that provide on-site power to oil and gas applications. Mesa is working with regulators to institute new programs that fit with today’s technology.