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South Dakota and coal

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Introduction

South Dakota had two coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 481 MW of capacity - representing 15.8% of the state's total electric generating capacity.[1] South Dakota ranks 43rd out of the 50 states in terms of coal-fired energy production.

In 2006, South Dakota's coal-fired power plants produced 4.4 million tons of CO2, 13,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 13,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; power plants were responsible for 32% of the state's total CO2 emissions.[2] In 2005, South Dakota emitted 17.7 tons of CO2 per person, slightly less than the U.S. average.[3]

No coal was mined in South Dakota in 2006.[4]

Citizen activism

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that South Dakota, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that was not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[5] The report mentioned South Dakota's Big Stone Power Plant as a site that has groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[6]

History

While there are sizeable coal reserves in South Dakota, there is no history of coal mining in the state. There has also been very little coal power development in South Dakota; the two proposed coal plants would more than triple the state's coal power generating capacity.

The $1.6 billion Big Stone II electrical power plant, was set to be constructed next to an existing power station near Milbank, S.D. but was abandoned on November 2, 2009. The plant would have supplied approximately 550 megawatts of power to utilities in North Dakota, South Dakota and southern Minnesota. A poor national economy and uncertainty about future federal environmental regulation were said to be the reasons that it was difficult to finance the plant. Environmental and citizen groups celebrated the news of Big Stone II being abandoned.

"This is happening in the context of coal plants around the country being abandoned," said Margaret Levin, state director for the Minnesota North Star chapter of the Sierra Club. "I would certainly attribute this outcome to an increased understanding ... that we have got to switch away from coal and other dirty forms of power."[7]

Legislative issues

Proposed coal plants

Active

Cancelled

Coal lobbying groups

Coal power companies

Existing coal plants

South Dakota had two coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 481 MW of capacity - representing 15.8% of the state's total electric generating capacity. Here is a list of both of these plants:[1][8][9]

Plant Name County Owner Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions SO2/MW Rank
Big Stone Grant Otter Tail Power 1975 456 MW 4,210,000 tons 11,986 tons 122
Ben French Pennington Black Hills Corporation 1961 25 MW 207,000 tons ca. 1,000 tons N/A

The Big Stone plant alone represents 30.7% of South Dakota's total CO2 emissions, and 27.5% of the state's total SO2 emissions.[3]

For a map of existing coal plants in the state, see the bottom of this page.

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that South Dakota, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[10] The report mentioned South Dakota based Big Stone Power Plant as having groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[11]

Black Hills Inc. to shutter several coal plants

On August 7, 2012 it was reported that Black Hills Inc. was planning to close two of its older coal plants as well as one coal unit.

Colorado Electric, Black Hills Power subsidiary, stated that they will suspend operations at a coal-fired unit at the Ben French Power Plant in Rapid City, S.D. by August 31, 2012, and retire the plant in March 2014. The company also plans to retire plants near Gillette and Wyoming's Osage Power Plant, in March 2014.[12]

Major coal mines

There are no major coal mines in South Dakota.

Citizen groups

Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  2. Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 West Virginia Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
  4. Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  5. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  6. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  7. Dale Wetzel, "Developers abandon plan for SD power plant," Associated Press, November 2, 2009
  8. Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
  9. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  10. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  11. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  12. "Black Hills to shutter some coal-fired plants" Associated Press, August 6, 2012.

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