In a compromise that would avoid a threatened veto, legislative leaders from both parties reached agreement with the governor’s office Thursday on a bill aimed at cleaning up the state’s six oldest and dirtiest power plants.

Hours after the agreement was announced, the state House approved the measure 134-15. The bill now goes to the Senate.

It sets tougher emission standards for the amount of sulfur dioxide the plants can emit into the air and bans a practice known as pollution-credit trading.

Last year, Rowland vetoed a similar bill, saying he was concerned it could jeopardize reliability of the state’s power supply.

The new bill addresses the reliability issue with short-term waivers that would exempt the plants from the stricter emissions standards if there is a power emergency or if cleaner fuel is in short supply.

“After Governor Rowland’s veto last year, our goal was to come up with not just any bill, but one that could be signed into law while still ensuring that those living near these plants breathed cleaner air,” said House Speaker Moira Lyons, D-Stamford. “We did that.”

If the bill passes the Senate without any changes, Rowland will sign it into law, said Chris Cooper, the governor’s spokesman.

The compromise would be a breakthrough on an issue that has generated intense debate at the Capitol for more than five years.

Under the proposal, operators of power plants in Bridgeport, Middletown, Milford, Montville, New Haven and Norwalk would have to meet strict emission standards without trading pollution credits with cleaner power plants.

–Associated Press