A coal delivery back log threatens to shut down the Dairyland Power Cooperative plant in Genoa. That coal is delivered from trains then put on barges to get the coal to the Genoa plant.
Dairyland officials are concerned that they won't have enough coal to power the plant past January.
BNSF railroad, who supplies the coal by train, has promised Dairyland they will increase production to get enough coal to the plant. In a statement released by Representative Ron Kind's office Wednesday Rep. Kind said, "I am pleased that BNSF made this commitment to ship enough coal to give consumers some peace of mind as winter approaches. Adequate coal supplies will help keep energy prices low and ensure that Dairyland Power can fully power our communities."
“With crude oil taking an increasing share of our rail transport capacity, it's important that the basic energy needs of our homes and businesses are met, especially after the extreme conditions so many of us faced last winter. I will be closely monitoring the supply of coal to our region and will work to ensure that our energy needs are met.”Dairyland officials reached out to elected officials to express their concern over the lack of coal shipments. The Dairyland power plant in Genoa said they haven't received the amount of coal they need to get through the winter. 100% of the coal at the Genoa plant comes to them by barge. So once the shipping season on the river closes they can't get any more coal.
They are only at about 60% of where they need to be and need BNSF to triple its deliveries to catch up, said Brian Rude, Vice President of External and Member Relations at Dairyland.
If they don't have enough coal they would have to buy electricity on the market which can raise prices.
"With the polar vortex last year and the impact on reliability in the region, we're very concerned about that, we want that plant available...it's much more than a Dairyland issue, it's an electric reliability issue if a major plant can't operate. If we don't have the coal, we're going to have to go into the market to buy electricity...what it does is puts our members at risk financially, you have to pay whatever the price is on the market," said Rude.
BNSF said this year the harsh winter and an increase need for shipments created additional challenges. BNSF said they are making long-term plans to improve shipments.
In a statement released to News 19, Amy McBeth, a BNSF representative, said they are investing $5 billion on maintenance and expansion projects and the planned addition of a double track in La Crosse is an example of projects that will help better serve customers.
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