The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Nov. 19 went out for public comment on a natural gas pipeline route permit application from Minnesota Power that was prompted by a planned coal-to-gas switch at the Syl Laskin Energy Center.
Initial comments are being taken until Dec. 5, with any reply comments due by Dec. 12.
“Minnesota Power has proposed to construct a new, approximately 1-mile, 10.75-inch natural gas pipeline to transport natural gas from the Northern Natural Gas pipeline to Minnesota Power’s Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota,” said a commission notice. “The project would allow the Laskin Energy Center to be converted from a coal-fired facility to a natural gas-fired facility.”
Minnesota Power has requested a pipeline route width of up to 1,400 feet. Minnesota Power owns 63% of the land crossed by the proposed project and the City of Hoyt Lakes owns 37%.
Laskin Energy Center is currently a coal-fired station with two similar units. Units 1 and 2 are tangentially-fired steam generators and were both put into service in 1953. Laskin Units 1 and 2 each operate with a gross capability of 60 MW (55 MW net).
As part of Minnesota Power’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan, which has been approved by the Minnesota commission, the Laskin Energy Center is being converted from a coal-fired station to a natural gas-fired station with about the same generating capacity. Associated work will take place within the overall gas conversion project to allow the boilers to burn natural gas.
Conversion from coal to natural gas carries many environmental benefits including reduction of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants as well as elimination of coal ash. This conversion is the cheapest alternative to comply with the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), the utility said.
Minnesota Power anticipates beginning construction of the pipeline project in the third quarter of 2014 following attainment of regulatory permits and approvals. The pipeline would be placed in-service in the May-June period of 2015.