Black Hills Power seeks approval to demolish three small coal units

The Wyoming Public Service Commission is taking public comment until Oct. 4 on an application by Black Hills Power for the retirement in March 2014 of capacity at the coal-fired Neil Simpson I, Ben French and Osage facilities.

Black Hills Power on Aug. 29 requested authority to discontinue operation of and decommission Neil Simpson I, Ben French and Osage. The 22-MW Neil Simpson I facility is located in Campbell County, Wyo.; the 35-MW Osage facility is located in Weston County, Wyo.; and the 25-MW Ben French facility is in Pennington County, S.D.

Black Hills Power said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Area Sources: Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Boilers (Area Source Rules), to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants from various small boilers, to include coal-fired units of 25 MW or less. The deadline for compliance with the Area Source Rules is March 21, 2014. After an analysis of the cost of compliance, as well as consideration of the likelihood of additional future EPA regulations affecting the continued operation of the facilities, Black Hills Power determined the most cost-effective plan for EPA compliance is to retire the facilities by March 21, 2014.

The company told the commission that decommissioning the facilities will not adversely impact its ability to provide safe, adequate and reliable electric service to its customers. It said that with the help of consultant Black & Veatch, it issued in March of this year a request for proposals for companies interested in doing the plant demolition work. Independence Excavating LLC was picked to do the decommissioning work at these three Black Hills Power units, and also two other units of affiliate Black Hills Colorado Electric Utility, namely W.N. Clark and Pueblo 5/6. Black Hills Power would like Wyoming PSC approval by Jan. 15, 2014, so it can sign a contract with Independence Excavating.

Black Hills Power said it will replace the capacity of its three units in the summer of 2014 with a power purchase agreement, then after that with capacity from the in-construction, gas-fired Cheyenne Prairie Generating Station, which is due to go into commercial operation by Oct. 1, 2014.

W.N. Clark, the Colorado coal plant destined to be demolished, has a capacity of 40 MW, while the targeted Pueblo 5/6 is a gas-fired facility with 20 MW of capacity.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.