Friday, April 28, 2017

Minnesota power plant that partially runs on turkey feces faces closure

Benson Power plant (MPR photo by Tim Post)
A Benson, Minn. power plant that burns turkey feces and wood chips to generate steam that powers the plant’s turbines could close by the summer of 2018, Reed Anifson reports for the Swift County Monitor-News. Employees of Benson Power, LLC were told Tuesday that owners were in negotiations with Xcel Energy for sale of the plant. "If the sale goes through, Xcel Energy would seek regulatory permission from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to decommission the plant and close it." The plant, the first of its kind in the U.S., has 45 employees.

"Xcel Energy would explain to the PUC that it wants to close the plant to save its customers a substantial amount of money by reducing the cost of energy it purchases," Anifson writes. "Biomass power can be as much as 10 times more expensive than natural gas. Its other sources of green power, solar and wind, are far cheaper and are becoming an increasing segment of Xcel Energy’s portfolio."

The plant, launched in 2006, "gave area turkey farmers a new market for manure and created work for truckers who deliver some 500,000 tons of biomass to the plant annually," Elizabeth Dunbar reports for Minnesota Public Radio. Anfinson, who also serves on the city's economic development authority, said "the plant accounts for a quarter of the city's current property tax revenues."

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