Black Hills Corporation

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Black Hills Corporation
Type Public (NYSEBKH)
Headquarters 625 9th St.
Rapid City, SD 57701
Area served CO, IA, KS, MT, NE, SD, WY
Key people David R. Emery, CEO
Industry Electricity Production and Retail
Natural Gas Production and Retail
Coal Production
Oil Production
Products Electricity, Natural Gas, Coal, Oil
Revenue $695.9 million (2007)[1]
Net income $98.8 million (2007)[1]
Employees 998 (2007)
Divisions Black Hills Wholesale Energy Group
Black Hills Retail Services Group
Subsidiaries Black Hills Energy, Inc.
Wyodak Resources Development Corp.
Enserco Energy Inc.
Black Hills Exploration & Production, Inc.
Black Hills Power, Inc.
Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power Co.

Black Hills Corporation is a Rapid City, South Dakota diversified energy company that is an electric and gas utility in South Dakota and Wyoming and sells power throughout the American West.

On July 14, 2008, Black Hills acquired the Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska operations of Aquila. The company's operations in Missouri were acquired by Great Plains Energy.[2] Black Hills Energy is the company's wholesale energy business unit, and generates electricity, produces natural gas, oil and coal, and markets energy.[3]


The company was founded in 1941 as Black Hills Power & Light, by combining the assets of General Public Utilities, Inc., and Dakota Power Company - which provided power for most of western South Dakota. It previous component companies date their histories to the original electric utilities in the state.[4]

In 1954 the company acquired the Wyodak Coal Company (now Wyodak Resources Development Corporation), from the Homestake Mining Company, setting the stage for the company's investments in mining, oil and gas.

In 2007 it was announced an agreement to buy a natural gas utility in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa and its Colorado electric utility from Aquila. If the deal goes through it would increase its customer base from 137,000 to 753,000 and increase its employee base from 916 to 2,000.[5]


The company is the electric utility for 64,200 customers between Rapid City, South Dakota, and New Castle, Wyoming, as well as southeastern Montana via its Black Hills Power subsidiary.[6] Its Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power Company subsidiary serves another 80,000 in Cheyenne and southeastern Wyoming. Via its Black Hills Energy component, it has 1,000 megawatt (MW) of generating capacity in Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming and California, including two plants serving Las Vegas, Nevada.[7]

The centerpiece of the company's mining operations is the Wyodak Mine near Gillette, Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin, which is the oldest operating coal surface mine in the United States.[8] The mine has permitted reserves of 286 million tons. In addition, the company claims 169 billion cubic feet in oil and gas reserves (76% of which is natural gas), principally in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

Power portfolio

Out of its total 1,186 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (0.11% of the U.S. total), Black Hills produces 78.2% from natural gas, 21.0% from coal, and 0.8% from oil. Black Hills owns power plants in California, Colorado, Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming.[9]

Existing coal-fired power plants

Black Hills had 7 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 249 MW of capacity. Here is a list of Black Hills's coal power plants:[9][10][11]

Plant Name State County Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions
Neil Simpson Power Plants WY Campbell 1969, 1995 102 MW 1,147,000 tons 1,552 tons
Wygen Station WY Campbell 2003 88 MW 1,070,000 tons N/A
Osage Power Plant WY Weston 1948, 1949, 1952 35 MW 380,000 tons 3,094 tons
Ben French Power Plant SD Pennington 1961 25 MW 207,000 tons 767 tons

In 2006, Black Hills's 4 coal-fired power plants emitted 2.8 million tons of CO2 and at least 5,400 tons of SO2.

Black Hills to shutter several coal plants

On August 6, 2012, Black Hills Corporation announced the following scheduled retirements at its Colorado Electric subsidiary. Prior to final retirement, the company will suspend operations at the coal-fired unit at the Ben French Power Plant in Rapid City, S.D. by August 31, 2012. [12]

New Coal Plants

  • Wygen Unit 2 - is part of the Neil Simpson Complex, along with several other plants: Neil Simpson 1 (1970), Neil Simpson 2 (1995), and Wygen 1 (2003). All these plants use coal from the nearby Wyodak mine.[13] The state air permit for Wygen II was opposed by the National Park Service, due to pollution impacts on the Badlands and Wind Cave National Monument. Wygen II went into operation on January 1, 2008.[14]

Wygen III Goes Online

On April 1, 2010 it was announced that the newly constructed Wygen Unit 3 went officially online, several months earlier than expected. It was the first in the state of Wyoming to do so since 2008. The 100 MW plant will provide coal-fired electricity to approximately 70,000 residents in the states of South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The cost of the plant was $247 million.[15]

Critics of the plant in neighboring South Dakota, where Black Hills Power is requesting a rate increase, argue that the power the plant will produce for their community is not worth the extra increase in utility rates. In all the utility is asking for a 26.6 percent increase, or a total of $32 million. Rates could rise by more than 33% if the increase is approved by the State's Public Utilities Commission. Black Hills Power will receive the majority of the power the plant produces.[16]

In July 2010 the City of Gillette, Wyoming sold bonds to buy 25 percent of the Wygen Unit 3 power station. The bonds totaled approximately $75 million in revenue. Gillette buys about 58 percent of its electricity from Black Hills Power and Light, which operates the plant.[17]

Rate Increase Associated with Wygen III

In May 2010 Wyoming Public Service Commission approved a proposal by Black Hills Power to increase their rates by 32 percent for its Wyoming customers in June 2010, which would affect a total of 2,700 in northeastern Wyoming. The utility stated that it sought the increase to pay for costs associated with Wygen Unit 3, and other generation, transmission and distribution investments.[18]

Proposed Coal Plant

"Black Hills, Babcock & Wilcox and Air Liquide Engineering plan to build the nation's first commercial-scale carbon capture and sequestration coal-fired power plant in Campbell County.

The partnership has filed an application to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) seeking clean-coal technology funding available under the agency's restructured FutureGen project. The 100-megawatt plant is anticipated to be in service by 2015, according to Babcock & Wilcox.

The project is among dozens of proposals in Wyoming seeking financial support from DOE programs such as the Clean Coal Power Initiative, which received an appropriation of $800 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."[19]

Coal Exports

It was also reported in September 2011 that Ridley Terminals, located in British Columbia, announced export deals with Arch Coal, Black Hills Corporation and Cloud Peak Energy, all of which operate coal mines in the Powder River Basin.[20]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Black Hills Corp., BusinessWeek Company Insight Center, accessed July 2008.
  2. Great Plains Energy Completes Acquisition of Aquila, Great Plains Energy press release, July 14, 2008.
  3. "Black Hills Corporation to Acquire Aquila's Gas Utility Operations in Kansas" Business Wire, Feb 7, 2007
  4. Black Hills Corporation Company History, Funding Universe website.
  5. BH Corp.: Aquila deal to close in second quarter, Rapid City Journal, Feb. 10, 2008.
  6. About BHP, Black Hills Power website, accessed March 2008.
  7. Power Generation, Black Hills Corp. website, accessed March 2008.
  8. Wyodak Resources website, accessed March 2008.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  10. Environmental Integrity Project, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants, July 2007.
  11. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  12. "Black Hills Corp. to Suspend Operations of Older Coal-Fired Generation Factilities," Black Hills Corporation press release, August 6, 2012
  13. Black Hills Corporation 2006 shareholder report, accessed January 2008.
  14. "Black Hills Corporation Announces Commencement of Wygen II Power Plant Commercial Operations for Cheyenne Light Customers," PR Newswire, January 10, 2008.
  15. "New Coal Power Plant Goes Online Near Gillette" Matthew Brown, Associated Press, April 1, 2010.
  16. "Generating controversy" Barbara Soderlin, Rapid City Journal, March 28, 2010.
  17. "Gillette To Sell Bonds To Buy Into Power Plant", July 7, 2010.
  18. "Wyoming commission approves utility rate hikes" Associated Press, May 15, 2010.
  19. Dustin Bleizeffer,"Funding for coal plant sought", Casper Star-Tribune, September 19, 2009.
  20. "British Columbia export terminal can more than double capacity: official" Steve Hooks,, September 19, 2011.

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External Articles

Wikipedia also has an article on Black Hills Corporation. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.