Black Dog was built in the 1950s as a coal fired plant. The original Unit 1 boiler/turbine and the Unit 2 boiler were replaced in 2000-2002 with a natural gas combined-cycle unit (Unit 5). Unit 5 includes a natural gas-fired turbine-generator combined with a heat recovery steam generator. Exhaust heat from Unit 5 powers the Unit 2 steam turbine. The repowering project boosted output from the two original units by more than 100 megawatts, and results in greater operating efficiency and cleaner power production.
Units 3 and 4 were retired in 2015 and will be replaced with a new natural gas fired combustion turbine.
Black Dog takes its name from the Black Dog band of Sioux – or Dakotah – and their leader Chief Black Dog, who settled an area on the south bank of the Minnesota River around 1750. The settlement was the oldest Mdewakanton tribe in the area.
Black Dog is located in the Minnesota River Valley, also home to a variety of waterfowl and other wildlife. Xcel Energy owns about 1,500 acres around the Black Dog cooling ponds that it leases to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so it can maintain a preserve. Black Dog Preserve includes rare plant families more than 4,000 years old.
Unit 5 operates on natural gas. It utilizes state-of-the-art technology for controlling nitrogen oxide (NOx) releases.
Plant management actively partners with the city of Burnsville in the upkeep of Minnesota River frontage. Under a joint agreement, a trail system is being developed on plant property along the river and wildlife refuge.
The plant also partners with the Burnsville school system in a mentoring program for technically inclined students. Plant employees are involved in various community activities, such as Meals on Wheels and athletic programs.
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