Coyote Station

Coyote Station Electric Generating Plant is located in Mercer County, North Dakota, south of the Beulah-Hazen area. Construction began in October 1977, taking almost four years to complete. Coyote Station began producing electricity in 1981, with a single unit. Coyote Station is a lignite coal generating plant. The ownership of Coyote Station is split up among several companies, including Otter Tail Power Company (35%), Northern Municipal Power Agency (30%), Montana-Dakota Utilities Company (25%), and Northwestern Energy (10%).

Three other major coal conversion projects in central North Dakota were under construction at the same time as Coyote Station. These coal conversion projects include Antelope Valley Station, Great Plains Synfuels Plant and Coal Creek Station. Building Coyote Station required the use of more than 400 miles of electrical conductor and more than 64,000 yards of concrete. Coyote Station provides electricity for consumers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. As of 2006, 81 people worked at the plant.

Coyote Station receives its coal from Beulah Mine, which is near the plant. Beulah Mine is presently owned by the Dakota Westmoreland Corporation. Beulah Mine began production in 1963, and Coyote Station is the mine’s major customer. The station uses approximately 48,000 tons of lignite coal per week. This amounts to usage of approximately 2.5 million tons per year. Purchasing lignite coal from Beulah Mine costs Coyote Station more than $30 million per year. Beulah Mine employs 150 people just for the purpose supplying coal to Coyote Station. Water for producing steam to operate the turbines comes from the Missouri River, near Stanton, North Dakota.

Power plants that burn lignite coal do release pollutants such as arsenic and mercury compounds, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. These pollutants contribute to acid rain and global warming. Nitrogen oxide, another pollutant released by the burning of lignite coal, has been clinically linked to asthma and other respiratory problems. Due to these pollutants being released, Coyote Station contains emissions controls equipment to minimize pollution, including a dry scrubber to remove sulfur dioxide and a fabric filter baghouse to remove particulate emissions.

Along with these pollutants, most power stations built in the 1960s and 1970s included asbestos in their construction.  This fibrous mineral protected the plants from extreme temperatures, but also proved hazardous to the people that worked there.  When asbestos fibers become airborne, they can be breathed into the lungs, causing serious health problems like lung scarring, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.