Black Dog Generating Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Black Dog Generating Station is an operating power station of at least 563-megawatts (MW) in Burnsville, Dakota, Minnesota, United States with multiple units, some of which are not currently operating.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Black Dog Generating Station Burnsville, Dakota, Minnesota, United States 44.8107, -93.2491 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 2: 44.8106972, -93.2490917
  • Unit 3: 44.8106972, -93.2490917
  • Unit 4: 44.8106972, -93.2490917
  • Unit 6-1: 44.8108, -93.2501
  • Unit BDS0: 44.8108, -93.2501

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology CHP Start year Retired year
Unit 2 retired coal - bituminous 81 MW subcritical - - 2002
Unit 3 retired coal - bituminous 114 MW subcritical - - 2015
Unit 4 retired coal - bituminous 163 MW subcritical - - 2015
Unit 6-1 operating[1] gas[1] 238 MW[1] gas turbine[1] no[1] - 2058 (planned)[2]
Unit BDS0 operating[1] gas[1] 325 MW[1] combined cycle[1] no[1] - 2031 (planned)[2]

CHP is an abbreviation for Combined Heat and Power. It is a technology that produces electricity and thermal energy at high efficiencies. Coal units track this information in the Captive Use section when known.

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner Parent
Unit 2 Northern States Power Co Xcel Energy Inc
Unit 3 Northern States Power Co Xcel Energy Inc
Unit 4 Northern States Power Co Xcel Energy Inc
Unit 6-1 Northern States Power Co Xcel Energy Inc
Unit BDS0 Northern States Power Co Xcel Energy Inc

Coal-to-gas conversion

In 2010 Xcel had a proposal pending with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to retire Black Dog's two remaining coal-fired boilers (units 3 and 4), converting them to natural gas combined-cycle units by 2016.[3] In August 2011 Xcel Energy said it was to complete the conversion of one of its Minnesota power plants from coal to natural gas. It was reported that Xcel is seeking permission from state officials to switch the remaining Black Dog Generating Station units in Burnsville to natural gas.[4]

Black Dog received its last coal shipment in April 2015, and will close by the end of the year. A 215-megawatt gas-fire combustion-turbine peaking unit is expected to replace the retired coal plant in 2019.[5]

An older 81 MW unit at Black Dog built in 1952 was retired in 2002.[6]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 2,125,518 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 3,699 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 7,108 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 99 lb.


In September 2010, the Black Dog Generating Station was shut down following a fire and subsequent explosion at the plant’s 108-megawatt Unit 3 burner. Workers at the plant noticed smoldering in a coal hopper and notified Burnsville emergency services. Response crews were on the scene when contents of the bin fully ignited, resulting in an explosion that blew out some 200 feet of the plant’s west-facing wall. Three firefighters sustained minor injuries, none of the plants employees were hurt. The power plant will remain offline as officials from Xcel, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Burnsville Fire Department determine the cause of the blast. Company officials stated that services will not be interrupted because power is being routed from an alternate source to serve customers.[3]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Black Dog Generating Station

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[7] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[8]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Black Dog Generating Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 11 $78,000,000
Heart attacks 17 $1,800,000
Asthma attacks 180 $9,000
Hospital admissions 8 $180,000
Chronic bronchitis 7 $2,900,000
Asthma ER visits 11 $4,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory (November 2019)". Archived from the original on June 12, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory (April 2022)". Archived from the original on July 12, 2022. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dorothy Davis, "Explosion shuts down Xcel's Black Dog power plant in Minnesota" PennEnergy, Sep. 22, 2010.
  4. "Xcel to complete conversion of coal power plant to natural gas" Dan Olson, MRPNews, accessed August 23, 2011.
  5. "Black Dog Power Plant Receives Last Coal Shipment," ABC, April 8, 2015
  6. Form EIA-860 Data - Schedule 3, 'Generator Data' US EIA, 2014
  7. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  8. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

Additional data

To access additional data, including interactive maps of the power stations, downloadable datases, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker and the Global Oil and Gas Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.