Utility Considers Tyrone Plant Site for Coal Plant

Greta Sobottka has lived in a quiet Meridean neighborhood for decades. Now she's waiting to find out if a coal-fired plant that could end up about five miles away will shake things up in town.

"If it would have to be, it would have to be," she said. "It's much better than a nuclear power plant."

About 30 years ago, Greta's parents, brother, and sister in law protested the Tyrone Nuclear Power Plant, proposed for the same plot of land. Those plans were cancelled.

These require access to rail, water, and transmission lines.

The Tyrone site has em' all.

"There aren't a lot of sites in the area that aren't already developed that have those attributes."

Xcel officials say their coal plans aren't set in stone.

"It's only one of a number of options we're looking at right now," said Betsy Engelking, Xcel's Manager of Resource Planning and Bidding.

Environmentalists hope they won't rule out wind, biomass, or locally produced farm energy.

"I'm just not convinced that Xcel is interested in any of those alternatives," said Will Fantle of Northern Thunder.

They are talking about injecting more than 100 jobs in the community though.

"They're gonna be good jobs, so I got pretty excited about it," said Durand Mayor Gerald M. Bauer.

He doesn't think the state or the feds would let emissions get out of control.

Opponents aren't so sure.

"If you're choking on what you're doing, I don't think that's a fair tradeoff," Fantle said.

Neither does Greta, but she admits a voice coming from a quiet meridean neighborhood probably won't keep a corporate giant from developing their own property.

"If we need the power-we'd have to have it."

Right now, Xcel officials are looking at up to a half-dozen alternative building sites in other midwest states.
They wouldn't admit to leaning toward one over another at this point.
Durand's Mayor says they told him about three sites including Tyrone.
He still thinks it's a one-in-three shot.

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