The Big Stone hearing in South Dakota ended on Wednesday, with a public hearing on Thursday night, and look what’s in Saturday’s paper…

Cleaner power plant pondered


July 1, 2006

Cleaner coal technology could be on its way to Mobridge or Huron if a study announced Friday is successful.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative announced it is considering building a coal-fired power plant in South Dakota, using a technology called Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, or IGCC.

The projected $1.5 billion plant would be more expensive to build than the conventional Big Stone II power plant proposed by other companies near Milbank. But IGCC produces less pollution and would make it possible to someday trap carbon dioxide.

That gas is thought to be the main culprit in global warming and would be a potential financial liability if Congress or the states one day regulate carbon emissions.

“We recognize that if coal is going to have a future in this country that we need to find a way of producing energy using coal in the most environmentally responsible way that’s possible,” said Basin spokesman Floyd Robb in Bismarck, N.D.

Basin is the wholesale power supplier for South Dakota’s rural electric cooperatives. It is studying the IGCC plant with GE Energy and Bechtel Power.

Robb said Basin narrowed its choices for the feasibility study to the Mobridge-Selby area and the Huron-Wolsey area based on water supply and the availability of coal by rail from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

There are two IGCC plants operating in the U.S., but they use a different coal type. Using Powder River coal will be one technical challenge, as will finding a way to lock away carbon dioxide.

Bob Grant is associate executive director of the Izaak Walton League, one of four environmental groups that opposed the Big Stone II plant at a hearing this week in Pierre.

He said the IGCC plans are a positive sign.

“Clearly, that’s the kind of technology – if we’re going to use coal – that we think is moving us in the right direction, particularly if the project really takes a serious look at capturing and sequestering the carbon dioxide from the facility,” Grant said.

Reach Ben Shouse at 331-2318.


And the Big Stone hearings really are over. Two and one-half days of hearings for a coal plant! Can you believe that?

Here’s all the Prefiled Testimony, Exhibits, Transcripts and you can even listen!
South Dakota PUC Docket No.: EL05-022

The Minnesota Big Stone transmission docket moves forward too…
go to and click on eDockets and type in docket 05-619
and for siting, here’s the transmission line docket.

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