The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is taking comment until July 25 on a draft air permit revision that would allow Minnesota Power to switch from coal to natural gas at its 110-MW Laskin Energy Center.
The permit revision would change the two units from burning predominantly coal, to exclusively natural gas. Burners in the two units would be replaced, though the units would still discharge to a common stack. The coal crusher and ash handling equipment would be idled or removed.
As part of Minnesota Power’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan, which has been approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in November 2013, Laskin is being converted to a natural gas-fired station with about the same generating capacity as before. 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 has said.
The utility is planning a 5,900-foot gas pipeline built from a Northern Natural Gas pipeline to the Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes, Minn., as part of this 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).