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Great River Energy is looking for a new fuel source for its Spiritwood power plant

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The state Industrial Commission has approved a grant for Great River Energy to look at another fuel source for the Spiritwood Station power plant, near Jamestown.

The power plant currently uses coal.

"Due to the sale of the Coal Creek Station, Great River Energy desires to evaluate fuel availability, fuel costs and capital costs of converting their boiler, fuel-handling systems and ash handling systems to replace the coal with biomass," said Deputy Commerce Director Rich Garman.

The suggested fuel: Used railroad ties.

The railroad ties they would be obtaining would be from the Upper Midwest, that would be annually replaced," Garman said. "It's not like there is a monster pile of railroad ties that are being burned. There's an annual replacement process, that would provide enough ties to burn at least a percentage of the fuel they would need to operate Spiritwood Station."

The grant would be for a "SEED" study — a front-end engineering and design study.

The Spiritwood Station provides steam for a co-located ethanol plant. And ADM is planning to build a $350 million soybean crushing and refining plant there.

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