Plans under way for US coal plant

SEVEN regional US utilities recently announced plans to go ahead with Big Stone II, a new coal-fired generating plant near the South Dakota town of Milbank.

Donna Schmidt

Complete with a hefty $US1.3 billion price tag, it is said to be one of the largest joint ventures funded by public and private money in South Dakota history.

The power companies involved in the project include Otter Tail Power, Central Minnesota Municipal, Great River Energy, Heartland Consumers, Missouri River Energy Services, Montana-Dakota Utilities and Southern Minnesota Municipal. All seven signed an agreement June 30 to move forward with the project, which will more than double the generating capacity of its existing facility, Big Stone.

The new complex will include a 600MW coal-fired generation unit and, according to a wire report, emissions-control equipment that would likely include selective catalytic reduction for nitrogen oxide reduction and a baghouse for particulate collection, followed by a wet scrubber for sulphur dioxide removal. The latter is pending final design plans and is subject to regulatory approvals.

“Big Stone II is a great example of utilities working together to solve their mutual need for baseload energy,” said project manager Mark Rolfes. “The project has created a unique relationship among our companies, which include cooperatives, investor-owned utilities, and municipals.”

According to the project’s main developer, Steve Schultz of Otter Tail Power, the new plant’s power will be used by the investor companies and not sold to the public. “Big Stone II will help these companies fulfill their commitment to meet their customers’ energy needs in an environmentally responsible and economical manner,” said Ward Uggerud, another Otter Tail Power spokesperson.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to commence in 2007 with a completion date in 2011. The original Big Stone Plant, established in 1975, has a 450MW-generating capacity.