Coal plant aims to keep Gillette air clean - KOTA Territory News

Coal plant aims to keep Gillette air clean

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The coal industry is the heart of Gillette.  But in order for the city to thrive, that coal needs to be responsibly mined and burned.

"We've got a couple of power plants that you'll see, and a lot of people look at the big silos that are coming up and they see what they think is smoke and that's steam," said Joe Lunne, the City of Gillette's Public Information Officer.

That's because facilities like the Dry Fork Power Plant burn coal as cleanly as possible.

"With the new technology, we can take out 99 percent of the emissions," said Dry Fork Community Rep Heidi Hockett.

The Dry Fork Station is a 422 megawatt coal fired power plant that opened only two years ago.

"It's a state of the art plant.  We invested $336 million in our environmental controls and it costs $5 million annually to operate and maintain," said Hockett.

After the coal comes in on the conveyor belt it goes through several pieces of equipment designed to minimize emissions.

But the Powder River Basin Resource Council, which is glad to see the plant keep pollutants out of the air, feels its only doing what's required by law.

"We would like them to use better technology that actually burns coal in a much cleaner and effective way, like super critical boiler technology," said Shannon Anderson with the Powder River Basin Resource Council.

Hockett says the current system is more efficient for a plant of this size.

And city officials believe the industry is doing its part.

"We're not covered in coal dust," said Lunne.

The Dry Fork Station is one of the last coal fired power plants to be built in the past 25 years.

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Rapid City, SD 57701

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