Two Elk Energy Park
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Two Elk Park was a proposed coal plant in Wyoming.
As shown in the map below, the project is located approximately 15 miles east of Wright, Wyoming.
Background (Two Elk Unit 1)
Two Elk Energy Park's Unit 1 was initially proposed in 1996. It would use coal from the nearby Black Thunder Mine, and would service contract buyers using PacifiCorp’s transmission system. The project was granted an air permit in Aug. 2001, and is currently under construction.
On December 20, 2007 the Sierra Club and Powder River Basin Resource Council filed a petition against the air permit for the Two Elk plant due to the company's failure to do sufficient work on the plant to justify continuing the permit.
According to an April 2009 Sierra Club update, Northern American Power Group was in the process of applying for a new permit with Wyoming DEQ.
In April 2014, WyoFile reported that the despite 15 years of extensions by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), construction had not progressed beyond initial site preparation and that citizens were petitioning the state to revoke Two Elk's permits. Locals referred to the project as "No Elk."
In 2015, pressure on the project intensified. The Campbell County Attorney’s Office demanded that North American Power Group pay $207,000 in unpaid property taxes from the second half of 2013 and all of 2014. In June a local court issued a default judgment on the 40-acre Two Elk property in June. The court judgment gave Campbell County permission to sell the property to recoup the back taxes, and local officials were reported to be moving forward on plans to auction the property. In August, the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council voted 6-0 against granting a ninth permit extension to the proposed Two Elk Power Plant. Keith Guille, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Quality, said, “Our department is working toward the termination of this permit because that is what the council voted on today by not approving their amendment." Currently, U.S. Department of Justice is demanding that the company return $5.7 million in federal stimulus funding, part of two stimulus grants totaling $10 million. According the the Department of Justice, the stimulus funding was spent on unapproved costs.
In October 2015 PacifiCorp terminated its interconnection agreement with Two Elk after the company failed to show it had the financial capacity to build the plant. The Campbell County Attorney's Office, after encountering several delays, is moving forward with plans to auction off Two Elk's property as compensation for unpaid property taxes. And a federal investigation into potential misuse of $10 million in stimulus funds remains outstanding. On Nov. 2, 2015, the Department of Environmental Quality informed Two Elk it had until April 15, 2016, to comply with the state's regulations. The process of regaining compliance is akin to filing a new permit application. Yet the company has signaled it intends to continue with the project.
In October 2016 federal prosecutors charged Michael J. Ruffatto, president of North American Power Group, with criminal fraud for bills he submitted under a 2009-2010 federal stimulus grant to research carbon storage at the Two Elk site. Ruffatto faces up to five years in prison, a US$250,000 fine, and possibly a requirement for restitution of funds under the federal False Claims Act on charges that he presented a “false, fictitious or fraudulent” bill to the U.S. government.
Background (Two Elk Unit 2)
The Two Elk Energy Park Unit 2 plant, was to be built by North American Power Group (NAPG) and would have been located adjacent to several coal mines. It would service contract buyers using PacifiCorp’s transmission system. NAPG stated that this would be the first of multiple expansions at the site. Each would have been a 600 MW IGCC or a 750 supercritical pulverized coal facility, and each would be independently permitted, owned, and operated.
State officials issued an air permit for the project, even though sponsors missed key deadlines in their permit application. State authorities repeatedly extended these deadlines; on the one occasion that the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) revoked the permit for non-compliance, the state settled NAPG’s resulting lawsuit by rewriting the permit and reissuing it without public comment or participating – an apparent violation of the federal Clean Air Act.
In Oct. 2007, sponsors signed a transmission agreement with PacifiCorp, allowing the project to move ahead. On Dec. 20, 2007, the Sierra Club and the Powder River Basin Resource Council filed suit against the project’s construction permit, questioning the state DEQ’s extension of the plant’s permit for two years, on the grounds that no construction work was done on the project during that period.
In January 2008, the North American Power Group submitted an application for an air quality permit.
On January 29, 2009 the Sierra Club filed a complaint with the Wyoming District Court against Two Elk Generating Partners. The Sierra Club argued that the construction could not proceed because the coal-fired plant's permit had not been updated since 2003 and subsequently had not taken into account new pollution control technologies, thus violating the Clean Air Act. The Sierra Club also stated that since the plant was originally permitted, two other coal-fired plants have begun construction in Campbell County, which would add significantly to the county's overall pollutant load. The facility will release approximately three million tons of CO2 and other pollutants each year.
Even so, on August 31, 2009 the Court granted Two Elk's motion to dismiss the Sierra Club's case. Sierra Club is now considering its appellate court options.
Two Elk began constructing an administration building in the summer of 2009, but it is not yet clear whether or not they have the funding to proceed.
In March 2010, the Sierra Club reported that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has officially withdrawn the North American Power Group's (NAPG) application for the Two Elk 2 coal plant facility. This means that they will have to start the application process from the beginning if they decide the pursue the project.
Sponsor: North American Power Group
Coordinates: 43.7552251, -105.2146912 (approximate)
Location: Wright, WY
Capacity: Unit 1: 325 MW; Unit 2: 750 MW (if using supercritical technology) or 600 MW (if using IGCC technology)
Type: Supercritical or IGCC
Projected in service: TBD
- Wyoming Conservation Voters, Jason Marsden, wyovoters [at] wyovoters.org
- http://www.wcvedfund.org/contact/index.php Wyoming Conservation Voters Education Fund], Darci Jones, [darci [at] wyovoters.org
- Powder River Basin Resource Council, Jill Morrison, jillm [at] powderriverbasin.org
- Wyoming Sierra Club, Melanie Stein, melanie.stein [at] sierraclub.org
- North American Power Group website, accessed January 2008.
- Western Resource Advocates website, accessed January 2008.
- "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed November 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
- "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed May 2009. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
- "Citizens ask state to revoke Two Elk Power Plant permit," WyoFile, April 15, 2014
- Benjamin Storrow, "Wyoming regulators decline Two Elk request for permit extension," Billings Gazette, August 31, 2015
- "Two decades later, Two Elk back to square one," Casper Star Tribune, Jan 10, 2016
- Rone Tempest, "Two Elk developer charged with federal criminal fraud," WyoFile, 4, 2016
- North America Power Group website, accessed January 2008.
- Western Resource Advocates website, accessed January 2008.
- Two Elk Plant Inks Transmission Deal, Gillette News-Record, October 5, 2007.
- Environmental Groups Challenge Two Elk Permit, KJCT website, December 20, 2007.
- "Two Elk 2", Western Resource Advocates site, accessed November 2008.
- "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed November 3, 2009. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
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- Coal plants cancelled in 2007
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