City firm captures lucrative contract Environmental Elements gets filter job at Wisconsin utility

Pollution control

January 23, 1998|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Environmental Elements Corp., a Baltimore maker of pollution-control devices, has won a $19 million contract to design and construct a gigantic air filter for a Wisconsin power company.

The filter will be installed at Wisconsin Electric Power Co.'s Presque Isle Power Plant, located north of Marquette, Mich.

E. H. Verdery, chairman and chief executive officer of Environmental Elements, said there is a "good probability" that the deal will lead to expansion and new hiring for the 52-year-old firm, though he said it was too early to give details.

"The volume of business we've been able to successfully book is up dramatically in the last year," he said. Environmental Elements employs 135 people in Baltimore.

Verdery said the increasingly competitive nature of the power industry means providers such as Wisconsin Electric are more likely to turn their pollution-control projects over to specialists.

"They're going to have to trim costs and one way to do that is to outsource air-pollution-control services to a company like ours," he said.

The filter that Environmental Elements will install at Presque Isle will be as big as a five-story building. Known as a baghouse, the filter is designed to remove ash from the smoke generated by four of Presque Isle's massive coal-fired boilers.

Verdery said the bag-house will catch 120,000 tons of coal ash per year. "We're talking about big volumes of smoke exhaust," he said.

He said the baghouse is "nothing more than a way for this company [Wisconsin Electric] to meet its air permit, which is very strict."

Gerald Abood, director of fossil operations for Wisconsin Electric, said that, without the baghouse, "we couldn't capture enough ash to keep our emissions down, so we were limiting the load we could put out. Now we have the flexibility to burn more coal. Our ability to capture particulates is much enhanced."

Engineering work on the project is to begin immediately. The baghouse is scheduled to begin operating in May 1999.

Environmental Elements did not face any competitive bids for the Presque Isle deal, which was announced Wednesday. The company completed a baghouse for Wisconsin Electric's Valley Plant in Milwaukee in 1995, and Verdery said the Presque Isle contract "certainly represents a continuation of a very successful relationship that we've developed over a several-year period."

Shares in Environmental Elements gained 6.25 cents yesterday to close at $4.5625 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Pub Date: 1/23/98

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