November 12, 2009 at 9:08 a.m.

Sunrise River station capacity down to 726 MW, physical plant is 200 feet from # 14

Sunrise River station capacity down to 726 MW, physical plant is 200 feet from # 14
Sunrise River station capacity down to 726 MW, physical plant is 200 feet from # 14

LS Power is actively involved in development of several energy generation projects across the United States at this time, and spokesperson Blake Wheatley remains optimistic the Sunrise River Energy Station in Lent Township will be one of the those projects built in coming years.

Wheatley, General Manager for LS Power Development LLC, said the company is listening to concerns being expressed publicly in these preliminary stages of the Lent Township project planning; while keeping in mind a timeframe for breaking ground in 2012.

Wheatley supplied the Chisago County Press with art depicting a view of the plant and a site plan for the "Sunrise River Energy Station." The facility is proposed for a 40-acre parcel in the area west of #15 and north of County Road 14.

The company has down-sized the original plant generating capacity to 726 MW (summer rating). This was in response to concerns it has heard, said Wheatley. The project could be designed even smaller, depending on analysis of existing power grid capacity, Wheatley added. The level of capacity to feed the peaking power into the Xcel Substation is being looked at in the context of a comprehensive regional electric grid. "The initial indication is we can connect," Wheatley reports.

LS Power is committed to not adding local powerlines to bring its peaking plant onto the grid--and will size the new plant accordingly, to avoid directly causing the addition of lines.

Wheatley described features in the site layout. (See graphic.)

LS Power is working with local firefighters and emergency responders to provide for built-in safety measures. But, local departments are also welcome to train and acquire skills on-site.

"We require little in the way of services," Wheatley explained. The plant has automatic fire suppression systems and the fuel storage tank will be surrounded by a containment structure. There is no natural gas "storage" on the site, all natural gas fuel sources are via a major pipeline that already runs nearby.

LS Power has gotten an easement across a neighboring property to create the access road off County Road 15.

Designing a zero liquid discharge system, whereby minerals and scales are separated out from water in the plant cooling system, and ultra-clean water is re-used has added about $14 million, Wheatley adds. The company heard concerns about any Sunrise River discharge and this was the solution developed.

Water supply still appears to be feasible from the Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Plant, located in Chisago Lake Township south of where LS proposes to build. Wheatley said officials serving on the CLJST Commission have been working very well with LS Power on access to the grey water, on moving it through underground pipes that would follow County Road 14 right-of-way, and on fair reimbursement for the water resource.

Wheatley said LS Power is agreeable to fronting costs for pumps, and other equipment which the sewer commission may need to divert the stored effluent.

The agreement with the CLJSTC is pending finalization of the development agreement with the county, Lent Township and the North Branch School District.

The development agreement is the hinge on which the project swings.

Wheatley said without it, there is no state personal property tax exemption for Sunrise River Energy, and without the exemption "no project really works in Minnesota."

Private utilities in past years frequently sought, and the legislature has granted, exemptions to the personal property tax, which in Minnesota is assessed on fixed equipment owned by private utilities.

This exemption is only granted when the development agreement is approved.

The agreement now includes conditions like a $100,000 LS Power contribution annually to a "County Environmental Fund." (See Jeff Norton's story on Monday night's Lent Township meeting.)


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