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The EPA is revising rules and regulations for ozone, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, water cooling, particulate, ash, mercury and carbon dioxide. These regulations are a push toward an inability to use coal to produce electricity.
Changes to any and all of these regulations put the future of our energy foundation into question. Basin Electric has made pollution control investments of $1.4 billion with annual expenses of $153 million. Now it is important that we take a strong position that enables us to run our plants for the remainder of their useful lives.
Environmental advocacy is shaping the way people think about energy. It is also shaping the regulatory environment for fossil fuels-based energy providers, which includes Basin Electric and many rural electric generation and transmission cooperatives in America. At a time when coal-based generators are under scrutiny about their compliance with regulatory standards for emissions and pollution control, it is noteworthy that Basin Electric became concerned about the environmental impact of coal generation and clean energy many years ago - and we remain so today.
Decades ago, Basin Electric took a proactive approach to protecting the quality and diversity of our environment (see the 1977 quote from Senator Burdick quote in right column).
Our facilities are 100 percent environmentally compliant. We currently have 764 megawatts (MW) of non-fossil fuels generation in our generation portfolio. Two Basin Electric subsidiaries were created to develop wind generation in the Dakotas.
By end of year 2012, Basin Electric will own 4,737 megawatts (MW) and operate 5,153 MW of electric generating capacity of which 987 MW is for participants of the Missouri Basin Power Project (MBPP), and 80 MW is jointly owned by Basin Electric and its Class A member, Corn Belt Power Cooperative, Humboldt, IA. Our electric generation facilities are in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa. Most of Basin Electric's baseload capacity comes from coal. Peaking facilities are oil or gas-based. Construction projects underway include a coal-based generation unit in Wyoming, combined cycle facilities and related transmission construction in South Dakota, and an emissions control upgrade at the Leland Olds Station in North Dakota.
Coal continues to produce half the electricity used in the United States. Our subsidiary, Dakota Gasification Company captures carbon dioxide emissions at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, a coal gasification facility near Beulah, ND.
Learn more about Basin Electric's response to pending EPA regulations and how energy security issues will impact our businesses and the cost of energy to consumers. Fact-based presentations and information sheets are available.
The founders of Basin Electric embraced a philosophy about environmental protection that can be summed up like this: "Always have... always will."
Basin Electric, as a regional power supplier, is part of an environmental effort that began in the late 1950s. At that time wholesale electric power came from federal hydroelectric plants along river systems. Hydroelectric energy was and is clean and renewable.
The problem then and now is there isn't enough of it. So distribution cooperatives pooled their power requirements to benefit from the efficiency gained from large-scale electric production. Together, they organized Basin Electric Power Cooperative and built low-sulfur, coal-based plants in Wyoming and North Dakota. Our tradition has been to reclaim mined land, reduce emissions and particulates, control odor and minimize environmental impacts to water, soil and air.
We combine coal-based and other generation with power from hydroelectric generators to provide our consumers with electricity. Basin Electric's mix of coal, hydro, distributed and renewable power is some of the most reliable, clean energy produced in America today.
Environmental protection is a Basin Electric core value. Simply put: our facilities run 24 hours, 7 days a week in the communities where we live, breath, work, raise our families and enjoy the great outdoors. We produce power where we live, and we are committed to living in rural America - a vital rural America with sustainable economies fueled by low-cost, regional power.
As both owners and consumers of primarily coal-based energy, Basin Electric directors, staff and members have a stake in ensuring that our water, air, and lands are kept pristine for our children and future generations, while supporting rural America's economies and communities.
We support the spirit of environmental protection laws.
Always have, always will.
Decades of leadership
"Basin Electric Power Cooperative, because of its progressive membership, employees, and Board of Directors, has consistently been the leader in articulating concepts that soon become the benchmark for the power supply industry. Your leadership in impact alleviation, mined land, reclamation and overall efforts towards minimizing environmental degradation is a record in which you deserve to take pride."
~ U.S. Senator Quentin N. Burdick (ND) at the 1977 Basin Electric Annual Meeting
Coal's future: no decision
In the past several years we have seen many different proposals for climate and energy bills with no forward movement. While some are content with no forward movement, no decision is a decision for the future of coal.
No decision means the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not only move forward with further greenhouse gas regulations, but also a wide range of other regulations that will impact energy development and put coal's future into question.
No decision means we will proceed with new generation incrementally; only smaller projects will move forward.
No decision means we will not have a path for domestic energy development. There will be no substantial effort toward development of clean coal technologies with so much uncertainty.