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Big Stone II

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So I've been planning this post for a while, and during that time, the story has changed a bit....

In a somewhat unexpected move, the Minnesota PUC unanimously approved the transmission for the project on January 15. The provisions they placed on the project were:

  • Using a $26/ton carbon dioxide cost cap.
  • Using a $3,000/kw construction cost cap.
  • Adhering to the mercury, water, C-Bed, and other agreements made with the OES in the August 2007 settlement.
  • Closing Hoot Lake Plant as a coal-fired generation station no later than the end of 2018, unless it is later determined as necessary to cost-effectively meet customer needs (including environmental costs)
  • Evaluating the feasibility and prudence of building Big Stone II as ultra-super-critical rather than as a super-critical pulverized coal plant. If cost-effective, ultra-super-critical could result in an additional two percent efficiency gain. (see World Coal Institute for definitions)
  • Committing to building Big Stone II as carbon-capture retrofit-ready

So, I was disappointed in the project's progress, disappointed that the PUC is allowing it to go forward, and was prepared to post as such.

But then...

The EPA blocked it! They are questioning the permit that South Dakota gave the plant proposers last year. The EPA objects to the emission levels for sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide, as well as the strength and appropriateness of the suggested emissions monitoring program. Thus, the plant needs a new, revised permit.

This will make the plant more expensive to build and could create problems with their recent approval of transmission from the MPUC (see construction cost cap). We'll just have to wait and see whether this determination by the EPA makes the project defunct or just prolongs the process.

But it sure is nice to have an environmentally-minded EPA again.

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