FERC look at enviro impacts of expanded gas supply to Xcel’s Black Dog power plant

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a Feb. 23 notice that it will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) on the Cedar Station Upgrade Project, which involves construction and operation of facilities by Northern Natural Gas Co. in Dakota County, Minnesota.

The commission will use this EA in its decision-making process to determine whether the project is in the public convenience and necessity. FERC will take scoping comments on what should be covered in the EA until March 24.

Northern plans to construct and operate approximately 7.8 miles of 20-inch-diameter pipeline from its existing Rosemont Junction in Rosemont, Minnesota, to its existing Cedar Station Meter Station in Eagan, Minnesota. The Cedar Station Upgrade Project would allow Northern to increase the pressure from 400 pounds per square inch gauge (psig) to 650 psig at the Cedar Station. This project would accommodate a contractual obligation to meet a delivery pressure for Northern States Power’s Black Dog Generating Station.

The Cedar Station Upgrade Project would consist of the following facilities;

  • 7.8 miles of 20-inch-diameter pipeline loop;
  • a pig launcher and receiver;
  • modified and new regulators; and
  • cathodic protection test stations.

Said a resource report on the project that Northern filed with FERC this past December: “The proposed Project facilities are being constructed to accommodate a contractual obligation to meet a delivery pressure for Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota Corporation (NSP-MN). … In order to fulfill its contractual obligation to NSP-MN, Northern needs to construct the new 20-inch-diameter pipeline to provide NSP-MN’s Black Dog Generating Station with the requested increase in delivery pressure, as contractually agreed to when modifications are made at the generating station.”

This past October, the Northern States Power subsidiary of Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) applied at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for a site permit on the 215-MW Black Dog Unit 6 Project. The commission had previously approved this project as part of the utility’s Competive Resource Acquisition case. Black Dog Unit 6 Project is a simple-cycle natural gas-fired combustion unit designed to provide approximately 215 MW of nominal peaking capabilities. The project will be located at the Black Dog Generating Plant in Burnsville, Minnesota.

Construction is scheduled to begin in June 2016 with foundation work for the new unit. Initial startup is planned for early 2018, with commercial operation in April 2018, the utility noted.

Black Dog Unit 6 will provide approximately 215 MW of nominal peaking capabilities and will be built in the existing powerhouse building for Unit 4. Both Units 3 and 4 were retired in early spring 2015.

The Black Dog Generating Facility is located south of the Minnesota River, about 15 miles south of Minneapolis and west of the City of Eagan.

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.