By Kari Eakins – 29 Oct ’14
Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power and Black Hills Corporation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Cheyenne Prairie Generating Station Tuesday afternoon. The $222 million plant contains three gas turbine generators, including the first combined cycle in the state.
“Combined cycle is an amazing unit just because it’s able to run 24-7, 365 days a year,” said Mark Stege, Cheyenne Light’s vice president of utility operation. “It can ramp up quickly, we can ramp it up in 10-15 minutes. So it really complements wind, it complements solar, anything we need to back up, we can cycle these plants between the simple cycle and the combined cycle quickly… so it’s very responsible.”
The 132-megawatt station is five miles southeast of downtown Cheyenne and replaces three coal fired power plants the Black Hills Corp. retired in March of 2014 to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency air emissions regulations.
“We still believe firmly in the future of coal,” said Stege. “We know we’re asking for time to let technology take over, because technology is there to help with coal, but right now the three plants that were retired were vintage of the 1950’s and 1960’s. So it was time and really you just look at the cost-benefit. It was much more beneficial to build a new power plant than to keep on retrofitting the old power plants at this time.”
The facility began commercial operation on October 1st and serves Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power and Black Hills Power customers. Seventeen full-time employees operate the station on an ongoing basis.