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.