On December 5th, the University of Minnesota CFACT chapter visited the Black Dog Power Plant in Burnsville Minnesota. The Black Dog Power Plant has been serving the southern Twin Cities metro for over 50 years. Originally a coal power plant, the plant currently the uses both coal and natural gas for power generation. The U of M CFACT chapter was privileged to have a behind the scenes tour of the plant. In addition to the tour, our guides were eager to answer our questions about the plant. Since it was originally built in the 1950’s, the Black Dog power plant has seen a large number of improvements, many of which have made it more environmentally friendly. Currently, the Black Dog Power Plant uses electrostatic precipitators to remove any ash from the exhaust generated by the coal power generators. The ash captured by the electrostatic precipitators is gathered and sold to constructions companies for use in making concrete.
Unfortunately, the coal power generators at the Black Dog Power Plant will be shutting down in April of 2015. The Black Dog Power Plant is one of 170 coal based power generating stations in the United States that are being closed due to new EPA regulations. These new, burdensome regulations require extensive retrofits, and for many power plants, Black Dog included, these retrofits are simply too expensive to be economically viable. The Black Dog Power Plant will continue to generate power, but it will only use its natural gas turbine after April 2015.