Closing Down A Power Plant?

Here’s an e-mail that was in my inbox this morning:


            As a long-time Bismarck resident and asthma patient, I know the importance of clean air and clean water when it comes to one’s health.

            That’s why I’m worried about Montana-Dakota Utilities’ Heskett coal-fired power plant, right across the Missouri River from Bismarck and north of Mandan. Coal pollution from this plant is linked to almost 150 asthma attacks every year.

            Our community deserves better. Investing in clean energy will bolster our local economy and benefit public health.Please join our group of doctors, nurses and local clean energy advocates on Tuesday, December 4th as we discuss our community’s health and paths to improve clean air for Bismarck families.

Community Health Forum

WHO: Sponsored by Sierra Club

WHEN:  December 4, 2012  7:00 PM

WHERE:  Bismarck Public Library (515 N 5th Street), Rm A

What’s this all about? Well, it’s about a group of serious Bismarckers talking with MDU about the possibility of shutting down the Heskett Plant, and asking MDU to consider adding wind energy capacity to make up for the loss of power from the plant. It began with a neighborhood meeting last summer over in Highland Acres, where I live. Highland Acres, in the northwest corner (okay, what used to be the northwest corner, now the “midwest part”) of Bismarck is directly downwind from the Heskett plant–has been since the 1950’s when the plant was built and Highland Acres was developed. About a dozen of us listened to Wayde Schafer from the Sierra Club tell us that he had met with the CEO of MDU and proposed that, for the good of the health of Highland Acres residents, and for various other good reasons, it was time to close the Heskett plant. And he hadn’t gotten thrown out the door by the MDU CEO.

A lignite-fired power plant so close to a residential area is an anomaly in North Dakota. Most are out on the prairie, well away from cities. And utilities are doing a better job of controlling pollution  from the plants. Still, it is impossible to eliminate all particulates from power plant stacks, and statistics do show (they will be presented at the Forum) that they are causing illness and death right here in Bismarck.

I hope you will attend the forum and learn more about this. And I hope talks continue between the Sierra club and MDU. This is a major consideration for a utility. I hope they consider it carefully.

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