Selby NextGen – why we need CapX!

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on February 15, 2008 @ 5:42 pm


Here’s one more reason we “need” CapX 2020 transmission. It’s been there all along in the MISO queue, there’ve been rumors about it for a long time, and now it’s formally proposed, a new 700MW coal plant, maybe even a “NextGen” plant, proposed by Basin Electric. DUH! COAL, THAT’S WHY WE “NEED” CAPX!

$2 billion plant to Selby?
Basin Electric hopes to have so-called NextGen coal-fueled power plant operational by 2014

By Scott Waltman,
Published on Friday, February 15, 2008

A Walworth County site is the location a North Dakota company would prefer to build a $2 billion coal-fueled power plant.

Basin Electric hopes to have its so-called NextGen plant operational by 2014. Tentative plans call for it to produce about 700 megawatts of power. However, it’s not yet certain that the plant will be built.

Floyd Robb, a Basin Electric spokesman, said the plant would serve Basin Electric’s expected increase in demand. But, he said, several factors will determine whether it will be built. They include economics, transmission concerns and regulatory uncertainty.

There’s also still a chance that the plant could go elsewhere. Robb said that if an environmental impact study now under way reveals problems, Basin Electric could choose to build NextGen in the Blunt-Onida area.

While the plant isn’t a done deal, Walworth County residents who worked to lure the plant are ecstatic. Gary Steuck of Mobridge, chairman of the North Central Power Plant Task Force, said the group has done its job.

“We feel pretty good down here after the decision,” Steuck said. “The task force has accomplished our mission. Our mission was to be named the preferred site.”

Whether Basin Electric will build the plant is something the efforts of locals can’t influence, he said.

“We’d love it if there wasn’t an ‘if,’ but there’s always an ‘if’ in there,” Steuck said.

Federal legislation that would create a carbon tax concerns Basin Electric, Robb said. Access to government funds is another issue. And increasing the capacity of transmission lines is also a must if the plant is to be built, he said.

Robb said the needed environmental and land permits would be issued by the state. The company was looking at two potential sites in Walworth County. The one selected is west of Selby between U.S. Highway 83 and 303rd Avenue, he said. That’s south of U.S. Highway 12.

Phylliss Pudwill of Selby is a Campbell County commissioner and a task force member. She said she knows of Basin Electric’s concerns and that there will be new challenges ahead, but she is still thrilled with the announcement that the Selby area is the preferred site.

There were discouraging times, but the task force has worked very hard to attract the plant, Pudwill said. She said having railroad service, available land, existing power lines and a nearby water supply in the Missouri River were all things that played to Walworth County’s benefit.

Steuck said task force members thought all along that they had the best location. He said Basin Electric officials said that the Walworth County people were very cordial and easy to work with, which was a benefit. But, he said, he’s sure the biggest factor in company’s decision was economics.

The plant would process coal shipped by train from Wyoming. What type of technology would be used is not yet known.

Steuck said Basin Electric wants to be able to capture the carbon dioxide the plant produces and move it, via pipeline, to oil fields. In some oil fields, he said, carbon dioxide is pumped into the ground to push oil toward the surface.

Being able to capture the carbon dioxide might make the plant more appealing to people who have environmental concerns, Steuck said. He said he’s sure some environmentalists will voice their worries with the plant.

Robb said the environmental impact study’s results probably won’t be known for a year or so. If everything goes well, he said, construction would probably begin in 2010.

About 1,500 construction workers would be needed to build the plant, Robb said. Once finished, NextGen would employ 125 to 150 full-time workers, he said.

News of the possible construction and new jobs in Walworth County is good for Aberdeen and other parts of the region, said Jim Barringer of the Aberdeen Development Corp. It would create opportunities for people to move back to northern South Dakota, he said.

It’s important that economic development groups attract people to fill the expected jobs being created in the region, he said.

“What’s good for Walworth County is good for people right here in Brown County and vice versa,” Barringer said.

Pudwill said $2 billion projects don’t come to this part of the country very often. She said the power plant would have an impact far beyond those work work at it. Schools, accountants, the medical field and others would feel the benefits, she said.

Steuck agrees. The process has been slow – Basin Electric first announced its plans for a new plant in 2004 – but the benefits would be huge, he said.

“We honestly feel that (the power plant) will have a bigger impact than when they put in the dam and the (Lake Oahe) reservoir,” Steuck said.

Response from South Dakota’s congressional delegation

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D.

“I’d like to congratulate Basin Electric’s directors on taking this important step in choosing Selby, S.D., as the ‘owner’s preferred’ site for its NextGen project. As Basin Electric provides power to all of South Dakota’s electric cooperatives, it’s vitally important to ensure the availability and affordability of electric power in coming decades, particularly across rural areas throughout the region. This significant investment will help to create jobs and additional tax revenues across the state, contributing a great deal to the overall economic health of our state.

“I’m also pleased to hear that the new plant will feature the latest environmental controls, minimizing its environmental impact. I will continue to monitor the developments regarding this exciting announcement as Basin Electric determines the best combustion technology for the site and Western Area Power Administration assesses its environmental impact to ensure the safety and well-being of the surrounding communities.”

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

“Today’s decision by Basin Electric Power Cooperative to select Selby, South Dakota as the preferred site for the construction of its NextGen project is terrific news for Walworth County and the state of South Dakota. Demand for electricity is continuing to grow and in order to meet that growth, it is necessary to look to all sources of energy.

“Expanding South Dakota’s electricity generation capacity means building more high-voltage electricity transmission lines to move electricity throughout the region, which will eliminate a key hurdle in constructing hundreds of megawatts of wind energy generation. The project has many steps yet to go, including a state permit process, but this is certainly good news for South Dakota

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

“This is great news for Walworth County and an economic development home run for South Dakota. This facility will create new jobs and generate economic development, and promises a bright future for north central South Dakota. I congratulate the people of Selby, Mobridge, and the surrounding communities for all their hard work in advocating for the Walworth County location. On several occasions over the past months, I have personally met with Basin’s leadership and staff and have encouraged them to select South Dakota for this exciting project, and I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders as this opportunity becomes a reality.”

This goes way back, no surprises here, to a study by ABB, mapping out the transmission desires of coal:

Lignite Vision 21 transmission study

Go to page 5, and look at that bright magenta “transmission” line starting right around the Selby area, funny how that works:


image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace