Spiritwood Industrial Park

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Great River Energy, a Minnesota Generation & Transmission Cooperative, used lignite from the Falkirk Mine to produce 40 MW of electricity; it will also produce steam, which will be used by Spirit Ethanol and Cargill Malt.[1] In November 2011 Great River Energy shut down the Spiritwood Station due to economic reasons. The plant is to stay offline until at least 2013.[2]

History of Spiritwood Industrial Park

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee On Energy and Water Development in August 2007, John Weeda, Plant Manager, Coal Creek Station, Great River Energy, stated that "fuel for the coal-based, combined heat and power plant will be beneficiated lignite, supplied by Great American Energy." Weeda stated that he hoped that the plant would be operating "in the first quarter of 2010 – following 2.5 years of construction."[3]

As a combined heat and power plant, Spiritwood Station will generate electricity for the electric grid and steam to power a neighboring malting plant and a proposed 100-million-gallon per year ethanol plant.

Construction began on November 6, 2007.[4]

The Spiritwood 99-megawatt coal-fired power plant is now under construction. It is located in the tiny community of Spiritwood, just east of Jamestown ND, and about 90 miles from the Minnesota border. It is to be operated by Great River Energy. Reportedly, the coal source will be North Dakota lignite from the Falkirk Mine near Underwood ND, which has a contract to supply GRE’s Coal Creek station. However, the plant is being built adjacent to a Burlington Northern main railroad freight line, which opens the possibility of bringing in coal from the Powder River Basin.

It remains somewhat unclear where the electricity from the plant will be shipped. According to Governor John Hoeven’s November 6, 2007 press release, the plant would provide “62 megawatts of base-load electricity to Great River Energy’s customers in Minnesota and 37 megawatts of peaking electricity for sale to the regional energy market.” A GRE power plant presentation, apparently from January, 2008, said the plant would provide 35-45 megawatts to “customers in Minnesota.” At an August 4, 2008 tour of the construction site, GRE told a Dakota Resource Council Board member that “electricity is being sold locally,” supposedly to the adjacent barley malting plant—although it is served by Otter Tail Power, not GRE.

It looks like a shell game of artificial electron separation to skirt Minnesota law.

The nature of the project has changed since its inception. The ethanol component has dropped out, at least for now. Originally, the idea was that the existing Cargill malting barley plant at the site would provide “gray water” for the ethanol plant, and the GRE coal burner would provide waste heat. The money behind the ethanol plant was Harold Newman, a Jamestown businessman who made his fortune in billboards.

Newman announced in July that he was putting the ethanol plant on hold because high corn prices made it non-competitive. He also acknowledged that there was not enough water available locally for both the power plant and the ethanol facility. It appears now that the coal burner will get the Cargill gray water and intends to supplement it with water from the Jamestown municipal water treatment facility, but the deal has not yet been announced.

It may be possible that the coal plant will not obtain enough water to operate at full capacity and may have to modify its plans. However, there appear to be no regulatory handles in North Dakota to stop it. The 99-megawatt size was picked to keep it one megawatt below the threshold for a state siting permit. Dakota Resource Council has recently opposed other air quality permits (Gascoyne, the original South Heart proposed coal burner, the Red Trail Energy ethanol plant in Richardton) based on their reliance on North Dakota’s controversial Prevention of Significant Deterioration modeling protocols. DRC discussed this type of opposition to Spiritwood, but it is too far away to impact Class I airsheds, and DRC did not submit comments. In December of 2007, DRC asked to reopen the comment period based on the removal of the Maximum Achievable Control Technology requirements from the draft permit, and the reclassification of the facility from a major source of hazardous air pollutants to a minor source. The state Department of Health denied DRC's request.

Project Details

Sponsor: Great River Energy
Location: Jamestown, ND
Capacity: 99 MW co-generation
Projected in service: 2001
Status: Built but not operating

Financing

Citizen Groups

Contact details

Website: http://www.greatriverenergy.com

Resources

References

  1. "Hoeven Announces $350 Million Spiritwood Industrial Park", Press release by North Dakota Governor’s Office, May 8, 2006.
  2. "Brand new power plant is idled by the economy" David Shaffer, Star Tribune, November 29, 2011.
  3. John Weeda, Plant Manager, Coal Creek Station,Great River Energy, Underwood, North Dakota, Testimony to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee On Energy and Water Development, August 13, 2007.
  4. "Ground broken for energy complex at Spiritwood, N.D.", KXMC website, November 6, 2007.

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