The Peak

A Blog from Black Hills Corporation

Jul 14, 2015
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Rapid City Energy Icon and Landmark Leaving after 50 Years

by Kelsey

The Ben French Power Plant has been a reliable source of electricity for customers of Black Hills Power as well as a Rapid City landmark for more than 50 years. It was a pivotal asset to the region’s economic growth and public welfare.

In 2012, we decommissioned the coal-fired plant as part of our South Dakota state-approved plan to replace our output with electricity from more efficient, modern sources.

Work to safely remove the plant is scheduled to begin mid-July 2015. Here's an infographic illustrating the three-phase process:

After five decades of service, we can't help but take some time to appreciate the past and reflect on the facts and figures behind Black Hills Power's Ben French Power Plant.

Who was Ben French?

J.B. “Ben” French joined the company in 1929 and led the team responsible for the incorporation of Black Hills Power and Light Company in 1941. He was our first president and chairman of the board, serving as president from 1941 to 1957 and as chairman until he retired in 1972.

When was the Ben French facility built?

Construction began at 409 Deadwood Ave., Rapid City, in 1959; the plant was placed into service in January 1961. It was built using the latest in efficient, cost-effective technologies. That tradition of innovation and cost-conscious decision-making continues today at facilities such as the new Cheyenne Prairie Generating Station, which has served Black Hills Power customers since October 2014.

Why was the Ben French plant decommissioned?

A conclusive factor was the Environmental Protection Agency’s aggressive new air emissions standards. We found it would be more cost-effective to build new, natural gas-fired generation than to retrofit a 50-year-old coal-fired plant to meet EPA regulations.

How much electricity did the plant produce?

Ben French Power Plant had a peak capacity of 22 MW, enough to supply approximately 13,000 homes.

For more information, read the full press release.

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