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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 11, 2007                                 

CONTACT: Leah Mohr, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201

Clean-energy briefing to be held in Pierre

PIERRE, S.D. – A panel of utility industry experts who participated in a European coal technology and climate policy fact-finding tour will present a briefing about the experience July 26, 2007, in Pierre. The presenters will also address opportunities for carbon-neutral technologies and practices in the upper Midwest.

South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Vice Chairman Gary Hanson will be joined by Betsy Engelking, manager of resource planning and bidding for Xcel Energy; David Hadley, vice president of state regulatory relations for the Midwest Independent System Operator; Beth Soholt, executive director of Wind on the Wires; and Mike Gregerson of the Great Plains Institute for the event that begins at 1:30 p.m. (Central Time) in Room 412 of the State Capitol. The public is invited to attend the forum. A live audio Web cast of the briefing will be accessible from the PUC's Web site,

The presenters were part of a delegation to Germany and the Netherlands last summer. The group visited commercial-scale, dry-feed gasification operations that produce a variety of liquid fuels, synthetic gas and electricity from low-rank coals, such as lignite. The plants produce fewer air pollutants than conventional coal plants and have the capability to capture and store carbon dioxide and mercury emissions.

"I am encouraged by what I learned during the study," said Hanson. "The briefing is a great opportunity for us to share some enlightening and valuable information with people interested in climate-friendly coal technologies," he said.

One energy-producing method expected to be addressed at the briefing is Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle which is a technology that turns coal into a gas then removes impurities from the coal gas before it is combusted.

"South Dakota is ready for IGCC. Earlier this year the Legislature approved a bill that provides a tax incentive for IGCC energy developers," Hanson said. "I really believe the energy industry in our region can become a leader in the production and marketing of cleaner and lower-cost energy," he concluded.

The Great Plains Institute organized the European study tour, the costs of which were underwritten by the Edgerton Foundation.