Boswell Energy Center

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Boswell Energy Center is an operating power station of at least 922-megawatts (MW) in Cohasset, Itasca, 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)
Boswell Energy Center Cohasset, Itasca, Minnesota, United States 47.262089, -93.652997 (exact)

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

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 3, Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 4: 47.262089, -93.652997

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 3 operating coal - subbituminous 364.5 subcritical 1973 2029 (planned)
Unit 1 retired coal - subbituminous 75 subcritical 1958 2018
Unit 2 retired coal - subbituminous 75 subcritical 1960 2018
Unit 4 operating coal - subbituminous 558 subcritical 1980 2035 (planned)

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 3 ALLETE Inc [100.0%]
Unit 1 ALLETE Inc [100.0%]
Unit 2 ALLETE Inc [100.0%]
Unit 4 ALLETE Inc [80.0%], WPPI Energy [20.0%]

Project-level coal details

  • Coal source(s): Antelope Coal Mine (Cloud Peak), Spring Creek Mine (Cloud Peak), Decker Mine (Cloud Peak), Black Thunder Mine (Arch Coal)

Retirement discussions

In October 2016, Minnesota Power announced it will close Unit 1 & 2 at Boswell Energy Center by 2018. The units were built in 1958 and 1960.[1]

Units 1 & 2 were retired in December 2018.[2]

A Sierra Club analysis found that retiring the Boswell coal plant and replacing it with a clean energy portfolio of wind, solar, storage, energy efficiency and demand response by 2029 at the latest would provide huge savings to customers.[3]

In February 2021, the utility filed a detailed 15-year plan with state regulators. By the end of the decade, Minnesota Power intended to shut down Unit 3 and to add 400 MW of solar and wind energy to replace it. By 2035, it intended to transition Unit 4 off coal, which could mean a switch to fossil gas, biomass, or other sources as advances in technology allow.[4]

According to November 2022 U.S. Energy Information Administration data, Unit 3 will retire by the end of 2029.[5]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 8,107,209 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 20,407 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 13,603 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 279 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Boswell Energy Center

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.[6] 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.[7]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Boswell Energy Center

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 55 $400,000,000
Heart attacks 87 $9,500,000
Asthma attacks 910 $47,000
Hospital admissions 40 $930,000
Chronic bronchitis 34 $15,000,000
Asthma ER visits 56 $20,000

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

Coal Waste Sites

Boswell ranked 18th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[8] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[9]

Boswell Energy Center ranked number 18 on the list, with 2,009,628 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[8]

Articles and Resources


Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.