On the agenda for the Sept. 8 meeting of the members of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is the question of a site permit for the 215-MW, simple-cycle Black Dog project of Northern States Power, a unit of Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL).
A Sept. 1 commission staff memo said the questions up for review on Sept. 8 are:
- Should the commission approve the proposed findings of fact?
- Should the commission find that the Environmental Assessment and the record on this project adequately address the issues identified in the Scoping Decision?
- Should the commission issue a site permit for the proposed natural gas electric generating facility?
Northern States Power has proposed to construct a 215-MW (Summer Capacity) simple-cycle natural gas-fired combustion turbine unit (Unit 6) and associated facilities at the existing Black Dog Generating Station in Burnsville, Minnesota. Unit 6 will increase the generating facility’s overall electric generating capacity to 498 MW (Summer Capacity). Its service life is expected to exceed 35 years.
The applicant has proposed to use existing infrastructure at the generating plant to the greatest extent practicable. This includes the existing powerhouse building, the existing 115 kV substation and transmission system infrastructure to interconnect the new combustion turbine generator to the bulk transmission system.
Unit 6 will be fueled entirely by natural gas. Improvements to natural gas infrastructure and any associated approvals are the responsibility of the gas supplier and are not a part of this proceeding.
The existing Black Dog Power Generating Station was initially developed as a coal- and gas-fired station beginning in the 1950s as four small coal units. All four coal-fired units have been shut down. The oldest two coal units were removed in 2002 and replaced with a natural gas-fired combustion cycle unit (Unit 5). Units 3 and 4 were retired in April 2015 and some of its structures and equipment will be removed to make room for the construction of Unit 6.
The Unit 6 project is anticipated to be operational by March 2018 and the estimated project cost is about $100 million.