Montana-Dakota Utilities plans to close aging coal-powered Sidney unit

In a recent turn of events, Montana-Dakota Utilities, a business subsidiary of MDU Resources Group Incorporation, has reportedly announced that it is considering plans to shut down three matured coal-powered electricity production factories at two sites in the coming 2-3 years. Furthermore, the company also declared plans to build a novel simple-cycle natural gas based combustion turbine to meet the needs of its consumers in a cost-effective manner.

According to sources familiar with the development, the analysis done by MDU while creating an integrated resource plan, which is framed by the firm in every 2 years and is filed with the regulatory commissions, pinpoints the closure of 2 aging coal-fired factories and the development of natural gas combustion turbine.

The decision to retire coal units came after the company realized the availability of low-cost electricity in the market, owing to cheaper natural gas and growing wind resources, as well as burgeoning costs to run these units, cited trusted sources.

If reports are to be believed, the retirements are expected to occur around 2020 end for Sidney based Lewis & Clark Station, and around 2021 for the units 1 &2 of Mandan based Heskett Station. However, these dates might get impacted by the firm’s coal supplier’s awaiting bankruptcy proceeding, reported sources.

Montana-Dakota reportedly has 77 employees at present in the two coal stations. Moreover, once the units are shut, MDU estimates about 10 employees would be needed to run the 2 natural gas-powered combustion turbine plants at Heskett unit and the 2 natural gas-powered reciprocating internal combustion engines at the Lewis & Clark unit, claim sources close to the development.

According to Nicole Kivisto, the Chief Executive Officer and President of Montana-Dakota, the company’s primary objective is to offer its customers with secured, affordable, and reliable services. Kivisto also said that the IRP procedure guides the firm in making informed decisions to attain those objectives. Lewis & Clark and Heskett have attained that objective for several years, but firm’s analysis claims that those units are no longer cost-wise competitive for clients, added Kivisto.