Jeff Speiler operates a dragline excavator on Feb. 6, scooping away dirt to reveal a 24-foot-thick seam of coal at the Rosebud Mine in Colstrip, Mont. The coal is burned to generate electricity for six of the Northwest’s largest utilities, including Avista Corp.
Coal from the Rosebud Mine travels on a 4.2-mile-long conveyor belt to reach coal-fired generators at the Colstrip Steam Electric Station on Feb. 4. Coal shown here is destined for Units 1 and 2, which are partly owned by Puget Sound Energy.
Avista’s Jason Thackston, senior vice president for energy resources, left, and Darrell Soyars, manager of corporate environmental compliance, photograph the chain attached to the dragline bucket during a tour of the Rosebud Mine on Jan. 4. Each link is about 2 feet long, 16 inches wide and 4 inches thick, and weighs about 255 pounds.
Operator Lynn Harris waits for his rig to be loaded with coal at the Rosebud Mine in Colstrip, Mont., on Feb. 4. The coal is then transported by conveyor to the Colstrip Steam Electric Station. The plant burns the equivalent of a rail car full of coal every five minutes, or the equivalent of three 100-car coal trains in a 24-hour period.