Wyo. coal plant construction stalls for 17 years

Posted: Apr 3, 2013

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Two Elk Energy Park

An $800 million project that was slated to provide 100,000 homes with coal-fired power and supply dozens of people with full-time jobs has been stalled for 17 years.

The Two Elk Energy Park in northeast Wyoming has run into a variety of barriers, including the global financial crisis and difficulty securing an investor to share the plant's costs and regulatory challenges. Already, it has received significant government support, to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars in tax-exempt municipal bonds. But none of it has been spent yet. And recently, it has received $10 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants.

Local municipalities, on the other hand, spent money preparing for the influx of workers that never came.

"It's kind of a running joke," said Campbell County Commission Chairman Dan Coolidge. "On its face, it seems like a great idea. But it just never materialized."

The plant was supposed to burn low-grade coal from a nearby Powder River Basin mine as well as wood destroyed by a beetle infestation in the Rocky Mountains.

The Wyoming Industrial Siting Council is slated to consider a state permit extension for the plant, its seventh in 16 years. If the petition is approved, the plant's completion date would be set for 2016. Originally, it was supposed to be finished in 1999.

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