1.15-GW Coal Creek Station gains reprieve as Co-op sells North Dakota coal-fired plant

Coal Creek Station
Photo credit Great River Energy

The sale of North Dakota’s largest coal-fired power plant should put the station’s planned retirement on hold.

Great River Energy, a cooperative, will sell the 1.15-GW Coal Creek Station to Rainbow Energy Center LLC. The deal averts the plant’s closure, which was planned for second half of 2022, according to the Great River Energy release in late July.

“We are excited for what the future holds for our North Dakota employees and the communities surrounding Coal Creek Station,” said Great River Energy President and Chief Executive Officer David Saggau.

Rainbow Energy Center will use the current plant employees to operate the facility. It also plans to develop carbon capture and storage capacity at Coal Creek.

Nexus Line, LLC has agreed to purchase Great River Energy’s high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system that connects central North Dakota to the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Great River Energy will continue to operate and maintain the HVDC system under a 10-year contract with Nexus Line.

Rainbow Energy Center and Nexus Line are affiliates of Rainbow Energy Marketing Corp. of Bismarck, North Dakota.

“The successful implementation of carbon capture and storage is central to our plans at Coal Creek Station,” said Rainbow Energy Marketing Corp. President Stacy L. Tschider. “As a privately held company, we are uniquely positioned to continue the successful legacy that Great River Energy and its employees have established in North Dakota.”

Once the plant is sold, Great River Energy will take 1.05-GW of power from Rainbow Energy Center for about two years. The power purchase agreement will extend to 300 MW for another eight years, according to reports. It also will save Great River Energy customers about $150 million compared to shutting down the plant, the cooperative said.

Rainbow Energy Center is developing plans to add new wind generation to the HVDC transmission system that would increase renewable energy deliveries to Minnesota.

The lignite-fired Coal Creek Station’s Unit 1 came online in the late 1970s with the second unit commissioned in 1980. Great River Energy is Minnesota power cooperative which holds both transmission and generation assets in Minnesota and North Dakota.

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