Minnesota PUC mulls pipeline for Laskin coal-to-gas conversion

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at its Dec. 19 meeting is due to look at a Nov. 13 application from Minnesota Power for the Laskin Energy Center Natural Gas Pipeline Project under the commission’s partial exemption pipeline procedures.

This would be a 5,900-foot gas pipeline built from a Northern Natural Gas pipeline to Minnesota Power’s Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes, Minn., as part of a coal-to-gas conversion project. The maximum designed capacity of the natural gas pipeline is 1,500 thousand standard cubic feet per hour (Mscfh) at up to 1,480 psig (pounds per square inch gauge).

“The Project will allow for the conversion of the coal-fired station into a natural gas fired station,” said a memo prepared by commission staff and filed on Dec. 12. “The total estimated cost of the proposed pipeline project is up to $2m. Construction has been targeted to begin as soon as August 2014 with a planned in-service date of May 2015.”

The question before the commission at the Dec. 19 meeting is whether to find the application complete and to initiate its partial exemption pipeline procedures. Staff recommends that the commission find the application substantially complete. Staff’s proposed timeline for this case would have the commission making a decision on the partial exemption in late March or early April of 2014.

Laskin Energy Center 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, Laskin is being converted 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, SO2 and other pollutants as well as elimination of coal ash. This conversion is the cheapest alternative to comply with the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), the utility said.

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.