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Rapid City Skyline Changing As Power Plant Dismantled

Charles Michael Ray

A part of the skyline in West Rapid City is changing as Black Hills Power is beginning work on dismantling a coal fired power plant.  
The Ben French Plant located on Deadwood Avenue supplied electricity to Rapid City and parts of the Black Hills for about 50 years.    But in efforts to comply with federal guidelines to reduce carbon emissions Black Hills power is switching to a new cleaner natural gas fired power plant located in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Vance Crocker is the Vice president of Operations for Black Hills Power.  He calls the decommissioning of this plant bittersweet.  He says the plant is a well known icon in the Black Hills.
“You know the Ben French plant started construction in 1959 was completed in 1961.  And, the plant was really a pivotal asset in the region’s economic growth and public welfare for the last 50 years.  It was definitely key to our ability to serve our customers for the past 50 years,” says Crocker.
Crocker says there are three phases of the decommissioning of the old plant.  They include removing above ground coal storage buildings, then removing a cooling tower, and finally taking down the 200 foot tall stack.   Crocker says four large peak demand back-up generators will remain on site and can be used locally as needed.