Wyoming’s low‐sulfur, sub‐bituminous coal is cleaner burning and found close to the surface, making it cheaper and easier to mine. Environmental stewardship is an important part of mining, and there is a strong history of that as well. According to the Wyoming Mining Association, almost 50 percent of Wyoming land that has been mined and that’s not currently in use, has either been reclaimed or is in the process of being reclaimed. Efficient mining means lower production costs and that helps Wyoming coal to compete and means better electricity rates for consumers.
FEELING THE PINCH
In 2016, national coal production was estimated to have fallen 18 percent and reached historical lows unseen since 1978. The PRB experienced the largest ever‐single year decline in production, falling below 300 million tons for the first time in nearly 20 years. Hundreds of PRB coal miners lost jobs and Wyoming state revenue is facing alarming deficits.
Coal production has been the foundation of the modern Wyoming economy for over 40 years. The industry has provided jobs and a steady source of tax revenue that’s used to fund schools and local government. But in the recent energy market, Wyoming’s coal industry is feeling the pressure. And in a state where coal accounts for more than 30 percent of state revenue, education funding is facing serious shortfalls. Wyoming’s education system depends on mineral‐based tax revenues for 65% of its funding. Lower fossil fuel prices over the past two years have resulted in education funding deficits that could be as high as $400 million annually and reach $1.8 billion over the next 5 years.
Wyoming workers, communities, schools and local governments count on coal. Securing coal’s place in the energy market for the long‐term will not only allow Wyoming families to continue to thrive, but also help America responsibly utilize its energy reserves so we can independently meet our future energy needs. Achieving such a goal requires innovation and the development of breakthrough technology. And that’s exactly what Wyoming is focused on achieving with the ITC.
WYOMING INTEGRATED TEST CENTER
The Wyoming ITC is a next generation testing facility being built just outside Gillette, Wyoming at Dry Fork Station, which is jointly owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative and the Wyoming Municipal Power Agency. It will provide researchers with pilot‐scale demonstration sites to develop new ways of removing and utilizing carbon emissions from coal‐fired power plants.
The center will feature six test bays; five small bays providing up to 0.4 MW of flue gas, and one large bay which can provide up to 18 MW of flue gas. Each site will be provided with scrubbed flue gas directed from the Dry Fork Station.
Upon its targeted completion in late Summer 2017, the ITC will be one of just a handful of facilities around the world, and only the second in the United States, capable of demonstrating the real world use of clean energy technologies at scale. Currently, most carbon capture technologies are developed in laboratories where researchers have to rely on simulated flue gas and are forced to transport technology between the lab and field to conduct tests. By putting researchers on‐site, with direct access to coal fired power flue gas, the ITC will provide a nearly unmatched opportunity to advance and scale Carbon Capture Utilization and Sequestration (CCUS) technologies under real world conditions.