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.
Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):
- Unit 3, Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 4: 47.262089, -93.652997
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 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)
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.
Units 1 & 2 were retired in December 2018.
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.
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.
According to November 2022 U.S. Energy Information Administration data, Unit 3 will retire by the end of 2029.
- 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. 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.
Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Boswell Energy Center
|Type of Impact||Annual Incidence||Valuation|
|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
- Clay Boswell Energy Center Central Wastewater Treatment Pond
- Clay Boswell Energy Center Coal Pile Sump
- Clay Boswell Energy Center Inactive Units 1, 2 & 3 Bottom Ash Pond
- Clay Boswell Energy Center Unit 3 Fly Ash Pond
- Clay Boswell Energy Center Units 1, 2 & 4 Fly Ash and Scrubber Slurry Pond
- Clay Boswell Energy Center Units 1-4 Bottom Ash Pond
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. The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.
Boswell Energy Center ranked number 18 on the list, with 2,009,628 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.
Articles and Resources
- Dan Kraker, "Minnesota Power to shut down two coal generators early," MPR News, Oct 19, 2016
- "165 FERC ¶ 61,278," FERC, Dec 31, 2018
- "Retiring the Boswell Coal Plant: The Economic Case for Clean Energy in the Northland," Sierra Club, November 2020
- "Minnesota Power shutting, converting final two coal plants by 2035," Star Tribune, January 12, 2021
- "Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory," U.S. EIA, December 22, 2022
- "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
- "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
- Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
- TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
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.