Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608
Fairmont – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency invites comments on an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for a proposed expansion to the Fairmont Energy Station in Martin County. The MPCA will use the comments to decide whether a more detailed environmental review process is needed.
The Southeast Minnesota Municipal Power Agency has proposed expanding its Fairmont plant by installing four electrical generator sets fueled by natural gas. This expansion would increase the plant’s capacity from 14.4 to 40.5 megawatts. Each generator set would require a 65-foot air emission stack. The generators would run only when electricity demand is high.
The new generator sets would replace six old steam boilers used to generate electricity or provide steam for district heating in the city of Fairmont. According to the environmental worksheet, the project would provide more efficient and reliable electrical generation for the power agency. This project is financed under a federal stimulus program to strengthen the economy and create jobs.
Located at 215 West Seventh St. on the west side of Fairmont, the site is zoned for heavy industrial use, and is surrounded by residential neighbors to the north, industrial sites to the east and south, and George Lake to the west. Despite the plant’s proximity to Lake George, the assessment found no potential impact to fish, wildlife or sensitive areas.
In the past, the plant used water from the lake to cool its equipment. The new generators would require a coolant, ethylene glycol, which is a toxic substance. The plant would also use and store lubricating oil, a nitrogen solution, and diesel fuel. Under state law, the facility must have a plan in place to prevent and mitigate the environmental impact of spills.
The MPCA expects the expansion to comply with the state’s air quality and noise level standards, though the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions would increase from 78,800 to 90,000 tons per year. The company plans to reduce noise by housing the generator sets within a concrete building and using mufflers on the equipment exhaust.
The complete Environmental Assessment Worksheet is available at /oxpg691.
Comments on the Environmental Assessment Worksheet, which must be in writing, are due to the MPCA by 4:30 p.m. on June 13. Comments should be mailed to Steve Sommer, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Rd. N., Saint Paul, MN 55155-4194, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.