Pittsburgh, PA — After years of community opposition to building a dirty fossil-fuel-burning power plant and litigation by a team of environmental groups to challenge its permit’s weak pollution controls, Invenergy has abandoned its proposal to build the Allegheny Energy Center (“AEC”) south of Pittsburgh in Elizabeth Township, PA.
Late Friday, Invenergy announced that it had given up its Allegheny County Health Department air quality permit because it “will not develop and construct the proposed Allegheny Energy Center.” The announcement came almost three months after it paused the multi-week trial in the appeal brought by the Environmental Integrity Project (“EIP”), Clean Air Council (“CAC”), and PennFuture on behalf of CAC, PennFuture, and Mountain Watershed Association (“MWA”) challenging the legality of AEC’s air permit. The gas-fired power plant would have been one of the largest and most polluting in Pennsylvania, and would not have included any renewable energy despite the community’s wishes and Invenergy’s experience with renewables at other sites.
Invenergy had been trying to build the AEC plant south of Pittsburgh since at least 2016. It encountered vigorous community opposition, including hundreds of commenters attending a public hearing to oppose the air pollution permit in 2021. In November 2021, the groups appealed the AEC air pollution permit, with EIP representing MWA, CAC, and PennFuture, and CAC and PennFuture also representing themselves. The now-terminated permit issued to AEC by the Allegheny County Health Department would have allowed the proposed 639-megawatt power plant to spew hundreds of tons of health-harming pollutants and millions of tons of climate pollutants annually.
The case had made it all the way to trial. The environmental groups had already presented the testimony of expert witnesses and several fact witnesses when Invenergy asked for the trial to be paused.
“This is a big win for everyone who cares about clean air in Western Pennsylvania,” said Lisa Hallowell, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project. “This plant would have released excessive amounts of pollution, and burning more fossil fuels would have been a giant step backwards for the region and the planet.”
“Allegheny Energy Center’s demise marks the end of giant new fossil-fueled power plants in Pennsylvania,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “Instead of locking us into decades of fossil fuel use and fueling the climate crisis, Pennsylvania can invest in wind and solar, which are safer, cheaper, and guarantee our energy independence far into the future.”
“This is a victory for Allegheny County as it continues to move away from its fossil fuel past into a sustainable energy future,” said Angela Kilbert, Senior Attorney at PennFuture. “We will continue to fight to protect the health of our communities from the harmful air pollution impacts imposed by fossil-fuel facilities like this one.”
“The community pushed back against the Allegheny Energy Center for seven long years,” said James Cato, Regional Organizer at Mountain Watershed Association. “Mountain Watershed Association is proud to have supported this fight through to the end. This is a huge win for residents of West Newton, Elizabeth Township, users of the GAP Trail, and the Youghiogheny River watershed as a whole.”
“My family, neighbors and friends were thrilled to learn that years of hard work paid off in a meaningful way,” said Cathy Anderson, Elizabeth Township resident. “Our voices were finally heard and legal facts were instrumental in leveling the playing field for our communities. This is a victory today and for the future of the region.”
Media Contact: Tom Pelton, Director of Communications, Environmental Integrity Project, firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-510-2574