Coal Questions, Part II

Yesterday I posted the first 20 questions I received anonymously from a community member. Today I will post the second 19:

21. What is the total transportation cost of the coal per year assuming one million tons per year? … $15 million, $20 million, $25 million?

22. What is the total “take-or-pay” commitment over the life of the contract for 10, 15, or 20 years at $15, $20, or $25/ton x 1 million tons per year?

23. What is the cost per megawatt for just the transportation and delivered price of the coal per ton x the tons/megawatt?

24. How does the total cost per megawatt for the planned 250 MW plant compare with the cost per megawatt of a comparable gas fired plant of the same MW output capacity located in the big gas fields northwest of Great Falls? … And, how does the investment and operating cost compare for a comparable gas-fired plant having a 250 MW capacity that avoids the coal hauling cost and investment altogether (mine-mouth generation)?

25. How many cents/kW will it cost to provide power if cost of hauling is taken into consideration for the planned plant and how does that compare with the 8.3 cents per kW Great Falls power consumers presently pay?

26. How many cents/kW (3.3 cents?) will it cost to produce power with 2.3 MW wind turbines similar to those on Gore Hill or at Judith Gap; and, how does it compare with the cost/kW for the 250 MW coal-fired plant at Highwood, or, a comparable gas-fired 250 MW plant located in the gas fields Northwest of Great Falls?

27. How many 2.3 MW wind turbines could the city of Great Falls have a 100% equity interest in if it would invest the $130 million in them instead of owning 25% of the coal-fired $515 million 250 MW plant? 130 ¸ 2.3 = 43? (based on $1,000/kw)

28. 43 Turbines could generate 130 MW or 130 ¸ 8.3mw (Great Falls load) = 15 times current load requirement for Great Falls, which could be wholesaled and wheeled to the wholesale market over the grid to offset the time and wheeled power cost which prevailed when wind wasn’t blowing.

29. What is the ROI, pay-out period for a 2.3 MW wind turbine similar to those on Gore Hill or Judith Gap if the power is sold for $33.5 per MW, 20% ROI, 25% ROI?
…5 years, 4 years pay back respectively?

30. What government loan, grants or subsidies can the City of Great Falls get for establishing and owning a wind farm as compared to what the city would get for a coal-fired plant planned by SME? … (which can only get a 75% loan, but the city gets nothing?)

31. What kind of “cap” will be put on the annual rail rate cost escalators built into the rail coal hauling contract for cost-of-living indexes, or fuel surcharges? That will prevent BNSF from charging whatever they want (like they did with Montana Grain rates +30%) since they are the only rail game in town?

32. Why can’t the city issue investment tax credits for interested investors (such as local businessmen and investors) in this project since the city is a “non-profit” government subdivision?

33. Why doesn’t the city use Great Falls Port Authority to finance, own and operate whatever type of power generation ultimately decided on whether coal, gas, wind,
solar? *FOR EXAMPLE: Consider having the Port Authority buy the land, the four wind turbines, build the 5,000 foot “O” track, rollover dump and substation which is leased out to SME to pay back the investment on a known fixed rate, rather than just be responsible for 25% of the $515 million, which could be increased by the time the power plant is built.

34. Wind generators located close to water can be used to generate Hydrogen, which can be stored in the turbine towers according to new U.S. Department of Energy technology. Why not use the proximity to the Missouri River to use wind to generate Hydrogen for developing fuel cells for cars? The balance of energy to economically produce hydrogen can only work if the power is generated by wind, solar or hydroelectric sources. It’s not economical to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen with fossil fuels. This would be an advantage and extra source of income that wind farms like Judith Gap, which are not located next to water such as we have here in Great Falls, cannot produce.

35. Who in the City Government will negotiate and execute the rail contract?

36. Where will the $130 million the city must provide come from? … Taxes? New levy? … Municipal bonds?

37. How will it be repaid? … From revenues on power sales? …By SME? … What kind of agreement does the city have with SME for repayment? ..Who made the agreement?

38. Who in city Government will be responsible for committing the city to this project? … Mayor? .. City manager? … City Commissioners? … All of the above? … By unanimous consent? By Majority? .. By what % to carry? ..51%? 2/3?

39. If the planned coal-fired plant shuts down for reasons other than “force majuere” or an Act of God before the years of the coal hauling “take-or-pay” contract with the railroad expires, how will the city pay the railroad for its “take-or-pay” commitment? Who will be responsible for the take-or-pay? SME? The city of Great Falls … 25%, etc.? *NOTE: This could amount to as much as $20 million per year for the remaining number of years of the contract. **Note: This could be caused by lower cost power available from the grid generated by gas, wind, solar or nuclear.

I'll post the rest tomorrow.

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