A Florida utility has agreed to cut tens of thousands of tons of pollution annually from two power plants in a settlement with the EPA, which could prompt similar agreements to resolve a government lawsuit against 32 aging coal-fired power plants in 10 states. Tampa Electric Co. will also pay a $3.5 million civil penalty for past pollution and invest $10 million in environmental mitigation and short-term pollution control measures. Over the next decade, the utility will switch one of the plants from coal to natural gas and will install new pollution devices to curtail emissions at the other plant, changes expected to cost about $1 billion The agreement is the first to come since the feds filed suit in November against seven of the country’s largest, dirtiest coal-burning utilities. Industry and enviro sources say at least one of the six other utilities named in the suit is showing an active interest in settling the case.
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