Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead announced Oct. 8 that an Integrated Test Center (ITC) will be built at Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s coal-fired Dry Fork Station near Gillette, Wyo.
The ITC will provide space for researchers to develop commercially viable uses for carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. A construction date has not been set, noted Basin Electric in an Oct. 8 statement.
“We are making an investment in the future of coal. The research at the ITC will lead to new opportunities in petrochemicals and other commercial uses for carbon dioxide,” said Mead. “We lead the nation in coal production. This facility allows us to provide the same leadership in research and to do all we can to make sure the coal industry can continue to serve Wyoming and the country for many years to come.”
In 2014, the Wyoming Legislature approved Mead’s request for $15 million in state funds to build and operate the ITC provided that $5 million in private matching funds were secured. Those funds have been pledged by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a Class A member of Basin Electric. In addition, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has pledged $1 million.
“I want to thank our partners at Tri-State Generation, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Basin Electric for their generous support. I also want to thank Rocky Mountain Power and Black Hills Power for their efforts to make this day a reality,” said Mead. “I’m thrilled to announce as well that XPRIZE Foundation will be the first tenants in the ITC. Their recent announcement of the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE is intended to foster a global competition and innovation in carbon technology.”
Representatives from Basin Electric, the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources and the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority joined the governor in making the announcement.
“We’re excited to be part of this project,” said Paul Sukut, Basin Electric CEO and general manager. “When we built Dry Fork Station, we built it with the hope and intention of one day having the opportunity to test and potentially help advance coal technologies. That day has arrived, and the foresight our members and staff had in building a coal facility that could be used in this capacity further exemplifies their dedication to innovation and the continued use of coal, a vital part of our nation’s energy infrastructure, well into the future.”
“The construction of the ITC demonstrates to the world Wyoming’s commitment to coal and the state’s leadership in being a part of the technology solution,” said Mike Easley, CEO of Powder River Energy, a Basin Electric Class A member, and chairman of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority. “Virtually every projection shows coal use growing globally and the ITC aims to prove that technology can improve coal’s environmental footprint. We have a real opportunity to take the CO2 from coal emissions and transform them from a liability into valuable products.”
The Dry Fork Station is owned by Basin Electric (92.9%), and the Wyoming Municipal Power Agency (7.1%). Construction on the Dry Fork Station began in 2007. The plant began commercial operation in 2011. Sub-bituminous coal from the nearby Dry Fork Mine provides fuel for Dry Fork Station via a conveyor system approximately one mile in length. The design capacity of Dry Fork is 422 MW.