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Teachers learning about lignite coal

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

Teachers from across the region are in Bismarck – learning about lignite.

The annual Lignite Education seminar is being held at Bismarck State College, sponsored by the Lignite Energy Council.

"Normally when we think about lignite, it's 80 percent used for generating electricity, and 20 percent at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, making synthetic natural gas and a plethora of fertilizers," said Council vice-president Steve Van Dyke.

This year, the focus of the seminar is toward new and emerging markets.

"Those are things we see coming down in the next 20 to 30 years," Van Dyke said.

Van Dyke said, for example, the teachers will get a look at the new electric school bus, purchased by the West Fargo School District.

Van Dyke said he thinks the future for lignite coal and electric power is bright for the next several years. He said the industry has made the investments to be good stewards of the environment, and the state benefits by low cost – and reliable -- electricity.

"Think back to the 'polar vortex' in January," Van Dyke said. "The power plants were humming along, because the mines are right next to the plants, and they do a good job of keeping the lights on, keeping the furnaces going. The vortex was a 'non-event' in North Dakota, where other places were struggling."

Van Dyke said the industry has been doing a good job, and the state has benefitted.

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