Comments invited on environmental worksheet for backup power station in Owatonna

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Rochester, Minn. — The public is invited to comment on the environmental worksheet for a backup power station in Owatonna proposed by the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will accept comments on the Environmental Assessment Worksheet through Aug. 5.

The power company provides electricity to 18 municipal utilities. It plans to build a power station on an undeveloped industrial park lot on the west side of Owatonna, near the intersection of West Bridge Street and northwest 32nd Avenue. The site has no shoreland, flood plain, designated wild or scenic river land use district, critical area, or agricultural preserves.

The station will consist of four natural gas generators to provide backup electricity for wind and solar power during peak demands. An additional generator, using diesel fuel, will provide emergency power in case of an outage. The generators will include air pollution control equipment, heat exchangers, pumps, filters, valves, and other equipment in a new 22,100-square-foot building. Radiators will cool the generator engines and exhaust silencers will reduce noise from the engines while venting exhaust gases to the atmosphere.

The power station will also use five tanks, four indoors and one outdoors, for coolant, lubricant and diesel fuel. The project will replace the electrical generators lost when the Straight River flooded downtown Owatonna in September 2010. The flood permanently damaged generators at 208 Walnut Ave. South. The new generation station, expected to be nearly twice as efficient as the old one, will provide more reliable, modern, and efficient electrical generation, according to the worksheet.

The MPCA is responsible for issuing the permits that set controls on air emissions and construction stormwater. These permits will be open for public comment shortly. The main environmental concerns for this project are the pollutants created by burning natural gas. The agency’s air emissions permit will set limits on the pollutants and require other controls to protect air quality. As far as water quality, stormwater retention ponds will minimize effects on the Straight River downstream.

The city of Owatonna is responsible for the building permit. The power company expects to start building this year and finish in 2017.

State agencies use this environmental worksheet to decide whether a more complete Environmental Impact Statement is needed. The worksheet covers site location details, nearby resources and other elements, including wells, soil types, water use, air and odor emissions, and traffic.

PDF iconOwatonna Energy Station - EAW

Public notice period: 7/6/15 to 8/5/15; Project manager: Charles Peterson

Comments on the worksheet must be in writing and submitted by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 6 to Charles Peterson (651-757-2856), MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 or charles.peterson@state.mn.us.

For more information on the air emissions permit, contact Eric Sulita of the MPCA at 651-757-2342 or Eric.Sulita@state.mn.us.