Black Hills Corp. (BHC) is the latest power company to announce slated closures at fossil fuel–fired power plants. The company’s subsidiary Black Hills Energy/Colorado Electric will suspend operations at its 42-MW W.N. Clark coal-fired power plant in Cañon City, Colo., and natural gas–fired steam units 5 and 6 in Pueblo, Colo., by the end of 2012. Another subsidiary will shut down the 25-MW Ben French power plant in Rapid City, S.D., by Aug. 31, 2012, as well as the 34.5-MW Osage and 22-MW Neil Simpson 1 coal-fired power plants on Mar. 21, 2014. The company cited “environmental regulations” and changing energy demands as reasons for the measures. 

“After a thorough analysis of new environmental regulations, coupled with changing market and operating conditions, we identified an opportunity to make changes to our resource portfolio by suspending operations at some of our older generating facilities in advance of permanently retiring those plants,” said David R. Emery, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of BHC . 

Suspension of operations requires the units to be available to generate electricity when necessary, especially during hot summer months, the company said. The company also plans to retire 124 MW of coal-fired generating facilities in Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming, saying “Retrofitting the facilities with the emissions controls to meet current regulations is not economical.” 

On July 30, 2012, Black Hills Energy/Colorado Electric filed a new electric resource plan with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to address customers’ energy needs during the next six years. After a thorough analysis of available options, and considering the Colorado PUC’s denial of the company’s 2011 request to construct an 88-MW natural gas–fired turbine, Black Hills Energy/Colorado Electric proposed building a 40-MW simple-cycle, natural gas–fired turbine, which would begin operating in 2016, to replace the electricity produced by W.N. Clark. 

On July 31, 2012, Black Hills Power received certificate of public convenience and necessity approval to build the Cheyenne Prairie Generating Station, a new natural gas–fired generating plant. The new facility will account for the capacity deficit from the three coal-fired plants Black Hills Power is retiring. The new plant will be jointly owned with Black Hills Power’s sister utility, Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power in Cheyenne, Wyo., allowing Black Hills Power to share capital costs. The new facility will begin operating in late 2014.      

Sources: POWERnews, Black Hills Corp. 

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)