The Wyoming state Industrial Siting Council has approved an amended permit for the $800 million, 300-MW Two Elk coal-fired power plant, which was first proposed in 1996 but has yet to break ground. Under terms of the amended permit, the company will start construction next January, the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper reported.

Representatives of Colorado-based North American Power Group (NAPG) appeared before the board Monday after applying last September to change the project’s construction schedule. A previous schedule showed that the company would begin construction in April 2012, but the financing needed to break ground has not been secured.

Two Elk Vice President Brad Enzi was quoted as telling council members that Enron’s 2001 collapse and the 2008 financial downturn were among the biggest reasons the project had yet to secure financing.

“I think everybody’s frustrated with the amount of time it’s taken this project to come to fruition,” council member Richard O’Gara was quoted as saying. “I have nothing this morning that tells me it’s going to happen.”

The council voted 4-2 to approve the schedule change.

Two Elk would use circulating fluidized bed (CFB) combustion technology to burn waste coal from nearby Powder River Basin coal mines. Two Elk has previously considered adding biomass, wind, and natural gas–fired generation projects as part of the project.

Michael J. Ruffatto established NAPG  in 1992, according to the company’s web site. Ruffatto has more than 30 years in the gas, oil, and energy trading and power generation industries, including both regulated and unregulated businesses, as a businessman and lawyer.

NAPG owns  and operates four units in California that use CFB technology to generate electricity. These are: Rio Bravo Rocklin, a 25-MW biomass plant, recycling wood waste into electricity in Sacramento; Rio Bravo Fresno, a 25-MW biomass plant, recycling wood waste into electricity in Fresno;  Rio Bravo Poso, a 40-MW combined heat and power (CHP) facility that uses fossil fuel and is planned to be converted to biomass for electricity generation and enhanced oil production in Bakersfield; and Rio Bravo Jasmin, a 40-MW CHP facility that also is burning fossil fuel before its planned conversion to biomass for electricity generation and enhanced oil production, also in Bakersfield.

Sources: Casper Star-Tribune, North American Power Group

David Wagman, Executive Editor (@EPContentDirect)

This story was first published April 2.