Coal Age

OCT 2015

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To that end, Minnesota Power expects to have removed about 560 megawatts of coal-burning generation from its power supply by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. Later this fall, the 225-megawatt Taconite Harbor coal plant on t he north shore of Lake Superior will be "economically idled," not p ermanently closed. That means the plant could be restarted dur- ing the next few years if needed. However, Minnesota Power has decided to halt all coal operations at the plant in 2020, according to company spokeswoman Amy Rutledge. Earlier this year, Minnesota Power completed a $15 million conversion of its 110-megawatt Laskin coal plant at Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, to natural gas. Between 2006 and 2015, Minnesota Power signed power purchase a greements and constructed more than 600 megawatts of wind facili- ties. It also entered into a deal with Canada's Manitoba Hydro to pur- chase 383 megawatts of hydropower starting later this decade. As a result, Minnesota Power is a decade ahead of schedule in meeting Minnesota's renewable energy standard that requires 25% of all its retail electricity sales to be generated by eligible ener- gy technologies by 2025. The company is forecasting modest load growth for its cus- tomers over the next 15 years with more than 200 megawatts of additional load by 2029. Julie Pierce, director of strategy and plan- ning for the utility, said Minnesota Power's annual load growth over the 15-year period is expected to average about 0.7%. In the 2020s, the utility plans to add 200-300 megawatts of gas- fired generation and 33 megawatts of solar energy. Sierra Club, Xcel Energy Argue Over Sherco Plant's Future This Fall, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. and environmental groups led by the Sierra Club are battling over the fate of the compa- ny's 2,222-megawatt Sherco, or Sherburne County, coal-burning pow- er plant along the Mississippi River near Becker, Minnesota. Sherco's future is being called into question in light of the fed- eral Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new Clean Power Plan (CPP), which targets U.S. coal plants as a way to reduce emis- s ions of carbon dioxide and address global climate change. Sherco is a three-unit plant that burns about 9 million tons of low-sulfur Powder River Basin coal annually. Its two oldest units were built in the mid-1970s and are most at risk of possible shut- down because of the CPP in the view of the plant's critics. Xcel disagreed and said in its latest integrated resource plan that it wants to keep running Sherco's three units at least until 2030. The plant is needed to provide support for the electricity grid and to maintain service reliability, the utility said. The IRP is pending before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. n e w s c o n t i n u e d 16 October 2015 Sarver Receives SME Grant Emily Sarver, assistant professor of mining and minerals engineering at Virginia Tech, has received one of the first two nationwide Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME) Career Development Grants. The Career Development Grant program is one part of the society's new strategic effort aimed at building and securing the faculty pipeline for mining and minerals engineering. Sarver, who joined the Virginia Tech faculty in spring 2011, has already been involved in more than $2.8 million in sponsored research, with her personal share exceeding $2 million. Her research and teaching focuses on mine-generated environmental contaminants and the responsi- ble development of mineral and energy resources. Beulah Mine Earns Reclamation Award North Dakota Public Service Commission's (PCS) Reclamation Division rec- ognized Dakota Westmoreland Corp. (DWC), a subsidiary of Westmoreland Coal, with a 2015 state reclamation award. PSC handed down the honor at an awards luncheon September 30 to crews from DWC and the Beulah complex, which was recognized for taking special measures to preserve wooded draws in the active mining area of the property in Mercer County, northwest of Bismarck. The luncheon was part of the annual meeting of the Lignite Energy Council. "DWC has a number of wooded draws in its active mine area," Dakota Westmoreland officials said. "Although the lower reaches of most of these wooded draws are not underlain by coal, the upper reaches can be under- lain with coal. Oftentimes, the upper reaches of the wooded draws are dis- turbed by associated disturbances, such as sedimentation ponds and diversions and/or by coal removal." In fact, DWC modified its mine plan to avoid disturbing several draws, including the upper reaches. The process included moving several ponds and associated diversions out of wooded draw locations. "DWC used creative mining and water management methods to avoid disturbance to the upper reaches of the wooded draws, thus preserving these unique features," the company said. DWC's Beulah is a 9,000-acre surface mine that produces lignite from one active pit. Its coal supplies the adjacent 427-megawatt Coyote Generating Station. 2 0 1 5 A W A R D S % The Beulah mine was recognized for taking special measures to preserve wooded draws in active mining areas. Emily Sarver

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