Basin Electric Still Mulling Site For $1.5 Billion Coal-Fired Power Plant

Knocks one potential site off list, adds another.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Basin Electric Power Cooperative revised its list of possible sites to build a coal-fired power plant, dropping one and adding another in South Dakota.

The Bismarck, N.D.-based cooperative said it still is considering sites near Mobridge and near Stanton, N.D. But it has added a site in the Pierre-Blunt area of South Dakota and dropped a site near Wolsey.

''The primary reason for taking this site off the list was economic,'' said Floyd Robb, a spokesman for Basin.

Those factors include the distance to a water source and the added distance to haul coal by train, Robb said Tuesday.

''There also were some environmental concerns. The sites we were looking at had wetlands in them and so we suspected that might create some additional environmental issues.''

Pierre was on a list of a half-dozen or so sites mentioned early on for the plant. The list was later pared to Mobridge, Wolsey and Stanton.

Robb said the cooperative hopes to decide by this fall whether the plant will use a new technology known as integrated gasification combined cycle, which converts coal to a gas before burning, to reduce air pollution.

''Once we get down to that stage we will need to be down to one plant site location,'' he said.

A $1.5 billion price tag has been put on the plant in the past, but Robb said rising costs of materials and the decision on plant technology all affect the final price.

''To speculate on the plant cost is just that - speculation,'' he said. ''Until we get down to technology and the design and know what we're dealing with it's just a guess.''

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