GILLETTE — Most coal-fired power plants in Wyoming, including one that’s been in operation for just two years, emit carbon dioxide at a much higher rate than a proposed federal limit for new coal-fired power plants.

The proposed standards announced last month by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would require new coal-fired plants to exceed no more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.

Even the 2-year-old Dry Fork Station north of Gillette emits about 2,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour. Power plant owner Basin Electric touts the plant as one of the cleanest coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

Officials at PacifiCorp say carbon dioxide emissions from its four Wyoming coal-fired power plants range from 2,100 to 2,600 pounds per megawatt hour. PacifiCorp operates the Jim Bridger plant 30 miles northeast of Rock Springs, the Naughton plant near Kemmerer, the Dave Johnston plant outside Glenrock, and the Wyodak plant near Gillette.

Black Hills Energy’s coal-fired plants at the Neil Simpson Complex near Gillette emit between 2,100 to 2,500 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour depending on the power plant.

Other large coal-fired plants in Wyoming include Basin Electric’s Laramie River Station near Wheatland.

The EPA plans to issue carbon pollution standards for existing power plants in June.

At Dry Fork, Basin Electric has 16 acres available for any future project to pump and store carbon dioxide emissions underground. Right now, that technology is not available and not economically viable, Dry Fork spokeswoman Heidi Hockett said.

“We did plan ahead and we are looking forward to being able to use advanced technology when it becomes available,” Hockett said.

Natural gas-fired power plants emit 1,220 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour on average, according to the EPA.

The proposed standards would require new, large natural gas power plants to limit carbon dioxide emissions to 1,000 pounds per megawatt hour and small ones to 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.

(3) comments

Jackalope
Jackalope

It is a disapointment to see the Associated Press engage in "apples and oranges" analysis of an improtant public issue; it is more of a disapointment to see the CST pass it on to their readers without one critical comment. With the statement that the new regulations apply to new permits, and clearly identifying June 2014 as the target date for regs that apply to existing facilities, the article does a comparison of existing plants with regulations that do not apply. The EPA has often and clearly stated that the period of public comment would be an effort to work with state and local governments on specific problems and avoid a one-size fits all solution to a situation that produces over one-third of our CO2. With all the fuss that came out of regulations to improve auto efficiency, there should be a bit of understanding that change is preferable to denial, that alarm can be replaced by action.

bja8237
bja8237

Change and action are preferable to denial and alarm. But physics and economics win out over dreams and hope every time. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with increasing standards. But new standards have to be based on what is achievable with available technology at reasonable cost. These new standards simply don't pass that test.

Edge
Edge

We need to ask if we are ok experimenting with base load electricity. We need to remember that less than 100 years ago we did not have this luxury. It supplies elderly, sick, every hospital has a heart monitor counting on this power, every grocery story needs to store food and on and on. Right now utility companies are planning to shut down coal generation within the next 3 years with no viable alternative technology available. We need to be careful and think about our neighbors.

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